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Whitman-Walker Health Opening This Month at its New 14th Street Building

Accompanying images can be viewed in the May 2015 issue PDF

Ben Lasky*

Whitman-Walker Health, founded in 1978 as Whitman-Walker Clinic to serve the gay and lesbian community in DC and in the ensuing years has been a leader in the fight against AIDS while at the same time expanding its services to include overall primary healthcare, is moving from its main facility at 14th and R Streets, NW a couple of blocks south to a brand new building at 1425 14th Street. While the grand opening will take place in early June, Whitman-Walker expects to begin serving patients on May 18.

This building, originally planned by neighborhood based arts promoter and developer Giorgio Furioso to be for offices and retail, while still in the planning stage he was approached by Whitman-Walker seeking to be the prime tenant. As a result, with a long-term lease arrangement entered into, he had the 41,000 of net usable space re-designed to Whitman-Walker’s specifications.

The new facility is a clear upgrade over the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center’s cramped interior, which had never been designed as a medical clinic. When the facility opens, it will be fully state-of-the-art and have a larger pharmacy than at the old location and 24 patient examination rooms –- double from before the move. The dental clinic area will occupy 6,000 square feet, allowing for an increase from the present three to nine rooms and to better serve dental surgery patients as well.

According to Jain, the new facility will be strictly a medical center. Aside from a staff break area with a few board rooms on the sixth floor, the new building will be devoted to patient and client needs and services. All administrative duties will continue to take place in the Elizabeth Taylor building, and it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

“Our board of directors is currently in a process to evaluate opportunities for redevelopment of the Elizabeth Taylor site. So long term, we do think that the site will be developed in some way” and that the decision on how to redevelop is expected this summer, Jain told this reporter.

While Whitman-Walker Health is most known for its work with patients with HIV and AIDS, its services reach far beyond to encompass transgender care, research, STD treatment and prevention, mental health and addiction services, medical adherence case management, community health services, and pro bono legal aid, among others, including Yoga, acupuncture and Reiki.

To Jain, what sets Whitman-Walker apart is how it treats its patients. “We provide culturally competent care for LGBT people. Whether that means training other providers, or making sure that LGBT people feel empowered to seek out care that affirms who they are, and are not seeing a provider who is going to judge them for their sexual orientation, their behaviors or their gender identity.”
*Ben Lasky, a contributing writer for The InTowner, studied communications and journalism at The American University.