Cynthia Sturdevant, director of operations and compliance at Neighborhood Health with Lisa Gittleman, the new location’s family nurse practitioner.
Photo by Eden Brown.
Lisa Gittleman, FNP (family nurse practitioner) at the newly opened Neighborhood Health office at Sequoia Plaza 3, is used to managing diverse physical and mental health needs; she is a captain in the Navy Reserve. Gittleman said she enjoys the connection between behavioral and physical health: she might have a client who is homeless, who has urgent needs for a full spectrum of health services: he might not have taken his meds in a long time, or she may never have had a mammogram.
Gittleman will be at the new offices at 2120 Washington Boulevard (near Syphax) three days a week, sharing duties with family physician Dr. Daniel Holtan, who will be there two days a week. Holtan, board-certified in family medicine, has more than 25 years of experience working with underserved communities, and has a special interest and training in mind/body medicine and mindfulness.
The clinic is now open five days a week, including one evening, to adults and children aged 5 and up. New patients living in Arlington may be referred to this location through human services agencies, schools, and nonprofits. Neighborhood Health provides dental care two days per week at Sequoia Plaza 1.
Harry Ayling, senior adult mental health program manager with Arlington County Department of Human Services, is always looking for resources for his adult mental health clients. He was at the open house celebrating the expansion of service on Feb. 22. He peppered the Neighborhood Health staff with questions: “How many people can you see a day? (They can accommodate between 16 to 18 a day.) “Will you get more doctors?” (As needed.) Other attendees asked, “How about day laborers who can’t verify their salaries because they are paid in cash intermittently,” and were told Neighborhood Health staff works with applicants to review their qualifications.
Dr. Basim Khan, the face of Neighborhood Health and its executive director, attended the open house and spoke about goals: “We are now at 18,000 patients,” he said. “We hope to get to 21,000 by the end of 2018.” That may seem like a significant jump, but Neighborhood Health started with a little over 1,500 patients in 1997 and should easily grow by 50 percent from 2016 to 2018 given the demand for its services.
“The biggest issues,” Khan said, “are managing the growth and ensuring there are adequate resources to sustain that growth. But we are in better shape in both departments than we were just a few years ago.”
“It made sense to open up to more patients in this location, offering the full spectrum of health services, “ Khan said, “because we were in this building already doing just behavioral health. Now we can dovetail with other DHS programs. And those partnerships are a key driver in helping Neighborhood Health reach the people most in need of primary health care. This partnership with Arlington County to expand the days and hours of primary care will have a significant impact on increasing access for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured Arlington residents and we are delighted to work with the county on this important venture.”
This expansion is being funded in part by a grant from the Virginia Health Care Foundation. VHCF is a public-private partnership with a mission to increase access to primary health care for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians via innovative service delivery models.
The new offices can be accessed via ART buses 42, 45, and 77, as well as Capital Bikeshare and via car. The full range of pediatric care, health care for seniors, lab services, low-cost of free medications, cancer screenings, immunizations and TB or HIV testing, and annual, employment, or sports physicals can be done at the offices.
Neighborhood Health provides comprehensive quality medical, dental, and behavioral health care at 11 health centers in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax County. Fifty percent of Neighborhood Health patients do not have health insurance. Neighborhood Health has received national quality award from 2014 through 2017 for exceeding national benchmarks in preventive care and chronic disease management. To learn more about Neighborhood Health, see www.neighborhoodhealthva.org or call 703-535-5568.