WWH New Health Care Home - FAQs

Why is WWH entering into a long term lease for new health center space?

  • Over the past 18 months, the Board of Directors engaged in a thoughtful and thorough planning discussion about WWH’s role in the community in a post-health care reform world.
  • From these discussions emerged the vision of Whitman-Walker Health as a 21stCentury, best-in-class health care home. Specifically, WWH will:
    • Improve the health of the communities we serve.
    • Expand program offerings to focus on our patients’ overall health outcomes
    • Pursue greater financial diversity to ensure our long-term viability, and
    • Expand our community leadership role in LGBT health and HIV/AIDS care in DC
  • After consultation with financial and real estate experts, the Board concluded that leasing this space was the best option to meet that vision.
  • It’s been clear for the last two years that WWH needs larger, modern space.
  • Our patient base continues to grow. Since 2009, Whitman-Walker Health has experienced the following growth in specific services:
    • 24% increase in primary medical care
    • 37% increase in dental care
    • 85% increase in mental health care
    • 52% increase in addictions counseling
    • 29% increase in STD/STI testing
  • Overall, our patient base has nearly doubled since 2006.
  • Affordable Care Act means that more people will have health coverage through the DC Health Insurance Exchange.
  • ACA also means that we will have to compete with other providers for new patients based on quality of care. With coverage, more people will choose their provider based on quality of care, not who will see them if they can’t pay.
  • There are still too many new HIV patients coming to us for care. We’ve made progress in DC, but there are still many new HIV patients coming through our doors.
  • Our current facilities were built for early 1990s health care. They are not designed to use modern technology or for the Patient-Centered Medical Homes team-based model of health care.
  • We cannot deliver highest quality of care in a crowded facility. That means less time with providers, difficulty scheduling appointments, and crowded waiting rooms.
  • We have inadequate space to offer new, needed services like ophthalmology and complementary therapies.
  • Improved space and new and expanded services allows us to provide higher quality of care for our patients. Space optimized for modern health care, more services, more providers, and a new model of care all mean an even higher level of quality than we currently provide.
  • The new space will allow us to better implement our Patient-Centered Medical Homes model of team-based care for patients. This approach lets us treat the whole patient, not just any condition they present.
  • It also allows us to stay in the 14th Street corridor. This has been our home for 25 years. We are committed to serving this community and want to continue our service here as it continues to grow and change.
  • Staying in the neighborhood is also convenient for our current patients and makes it easier for them to remain in care.
How did WWH decide to lease this space? Were other options considered?

  • The Board of Directors considered a number of options over the last year.
  • After consultation with financial and real estate experts, the major strategic considerations that emerged from this discussion were:
    • WWH will offer a 21st Century health care home that is built on three core foundations-- health and wellness services, clinical research, and public health law and policy
    • WWH will continue to operate two health care homes in DC to best serve our patients and fulfill our commitment to LGBT health and HIV/AIDS care: One in the Dupont/Logan Circle neighborhoods, one east of the Anacostia River.
    • Both health care homes must be located in neighborhoods that are Metro-accessible (bus and rail lines) to offer easy access for current and future patients.
    • Facility options for Dupont/Logan Circle health care home were:
      • Minor renovations to Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center over next two-three years
      • Major redevelopment of Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center over next five-seven years (phased project of new construction and major renovations to existing building)
      • Purchase of land and/or building(s) in Dupont/Logan Circle neighborhoods for major redevelopment over next four-six years (phased new construction and/or major renovations of existing buildings); or
      • Long-term leasing or lease-purchase agreement for new space in the next two-three years
    • WWH seeks to retain control of its major assets—Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center and Max Robinson Center in Anacostia.
      • Selected health and/or supportive programs and administrative services will continue to operate at both ETMC and MRC
      • No interest at this time in either selling existing health centers outright to fund new health homes
      • No interest at this time in entering into mixed used project with real estate development firm
  • Leasing the new space was the best option for us and the community. It allows us to increase our space by nearly 43,000 square feet in less than two years. That gives us more space for patients and gives them access to the modern medical home they deserve faster than any other available option.
  • Building new space at Elizabeth Taylor would cause major disruptions to our services, including possibly moving all services to a temporary site for an extended period of time.
How can WWH afford to lease such new space on 14th St NW corridor?  Overall WWH financial health?  Impact of looming federal budget cuts?

  • WWH will finish 2012 in the black for the third year in a row. Financially, we are doing very well.
  • Our business model is working better than we originally estimated.
  • The larger than expected influx of new patients, while challenging for space, has brought in more revenue than expected.
  • We are confident we will be able to afford the new, larger space.
  • New space for more patients and expanded services gives us more opportunity to bring in more revenue.
  • 2014 will bring aggressive efforts to bring in new patients to the new facilities.
  • Any deficit reduction deal could certainly impact our revenue, particularly if there are deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. We are aware of the potential and are preparing as best we can for the worst.
What will this mean for the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center?  Are you selling this property?  Other plans?

  • We are still using Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center for health care services and for administrative offices and will continue to do so after the new building is finished.
  • There will be little if any administrative offices in the new building. Nearly every square foot of new space will be devoted to health care.
  • Now that the lease has been signed, we are beginning to discuss what to do with the current Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center.
  • Our Board of Directors will undertake a thorough examination of how to use Elizabeth Taylor to its best potential.
What does this mean for the Max Robinson Center in Anacostia?  Are you closing this center and consolidating operations in new space?

  • As with Elizabeth Taylor, we are still using Max Robinson Center for health care services. And we are committed to providing our services east of the Anacostia.
  • Max Robinson faces several challenges, including space limitations, aging facilities, and location among numerous other health care providers in the area.
  • As with Elizabeth Taylor, our Board of Directors will undertake a thorough examination of how to use Max Robinson to its best potential.
What happens if there’s a significant delay in construction? Is there a plan B in case things fall apart?

  • We will still be able to see patients at the current Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center until the new facilities are ready.
  • Any delay in moving into the new facility will not affect our ability to care for our patients.
  • We will ensure that our patients do not see any change in the quality of their care if the building is delayed.
How many more patients will you be able to accommodate above your current patient base? Will you need to hire more staff?

  • Several new providers will come on board in 2013 in anticipation of the new space.
  • New services will also require us to hire additional staff.
  • Certainly, changes in patient base and demand for services will drive any additional hires.
  • New staff also helps us improve our quality of care. Providers come to WWH because of our mission and a commitment to quality.  They truly care about the patients we serve and want to give them the best possible care.
What changes will this bring in terms of services?

  • Our existing services will have the capability to see more patients. Ideally, that will mean more time with providers and greater ease scheduling appointments.
  • We will offer new services, including eye glasses/optical services, a travel clinic and complementary therapies.
  • Our larger pharmacy in the new space will be able to serve both WWH patients and non-WWH patients more effectively. Anyone in the community, even if they are not WWH patients, will be able to use our pharmacy.
  • Modern facilities, designed for modern health care technology, will also improve already high quality of care.
  • Full implementation of our Patient-Centered Medical Homes model will also improve the quality of care patients receive. Instead of just one provider, they will have a team working for their health.
How “long term” is this solution? If you get a big influx of new patients, could you be back in a similar position quickly?

  • As health care reform continues to be implemented, more and more people will have health care coverage. They will have choices to make about their health care providers and they will vote with their feet based on quality and customer service/satisfaction. 
  • While we expect continuing growth in our patient base, we believe the sheer number of health care providers in the city will keep us from seeing growth that we cannot accommodate.
How will you minimize patient disruption as you move services?

  • We will develop a moving plan to ensure that patients see no disruption or as little disruption as possible.
  • We could do this through staggered moves, where different departments move at different times, or moving during off hours.
  • We will certainly do all that we can to minimize any disruption of our patients’ care.
Will you need to increase your patient base by a certain amount to afford the new space? If so, how do you plan to do that?

  • The added expense of the new space will require us to increase our revenue, which means bringing in more new patients.
  • Given the growth in our patient base over the last few years, we expect to continue to see more new patients coming through the door even if we do nothing.
  • When the facilities are ready, we will begin a more aggressive marketing campaign to educate potential new patients about our services and the high quality care we provide.
  • We will spend a great deal of time in 2013 preparing for that campaign.
Any concerns that a new space might dissuade some people from coming for things like HIV and STD testing?

  • We believe the new facility will be welcoming and inviting to anyone coming for testing or any other services.