Commentary: Serving 20,000 Low-Income Residents

Commentary: Serving 20,000 Low-Income Residents

At any of Neighborhood Health’s 12 clinics in the City of Alexandria and Fairfax and Arlington counties, patients are served regardless of whether or not they have health insurance and regardless of their ability to pay.

It’s been that way for 20 years since its founding by nurses from the Alexandria Health Department as a small clinic serving women and children in the Arlandria section of the city.

From that humble beginning, what has become Neighborhood Health today now serves 20,000 low-income children, men and women every year carrying out its mission: “To improve health and advance health equity in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax by providing access to high quality care regardless of ability to pay.”

Neighborhood Health not only provides family practice, internal medicine, and pediatrics services including acute illness care, routine physical exams, and preventive care but also women’s health, behavioral health, dental care, medication assistance, lab services, and case management.

We provide a “medical home” for our patients, working as partners with their patients to help them improve their health and navigate a complicated health care system.

To achieve that goal, Neighborhood Health works to integrate care between different service lines such as primary medical care and mental health or pharmacy assistance. For example, if a patient screens positive for depression, the primary care provider introduces him or her to a counselor within the clinic. Or if a patient does not pick up a medication, the pharmacy assistance worker let’s our primary care provider know. The patient’s primary care provider, behavioral health counselor, medical assistant, pharmacy assistance worker, referral coordinator, family services worker, and others are all part of a team working together for our patients. We also coordinate our patients’ care with outside organization whether specialists or one of our multiple community partners such as the local community services boards, school system, or hospitals. We take responsibility for our patients.

There’s great need for such services in the area for low-income residents, especially for those without insurance but also for those with insurance such as Medicaid and Medicare.

In 2016, Neighborhood Health provided healthcare services to 14,000 patients; by 2018, that number has increased to 20,000. This is a reflection of the need and our goal to make sure that it is met.

Neighborhood Health has also set a goal to increase the number of people it treats by more than 10 percent, or 2,500 new patients, next year which also represents a 60 percent growth from 2016.

To accomplish that goal, Neighborhood Health will need to hire more clinicians to meet the growing demand.

On Friday, Nov. 9, Neighborhood Health will be holding its “Neighbors for Health” gala at 6:30 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, 1250 South Hayes St., Arlington, with the proceeds to support its goal to serve 22,500 patients in 2019.

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8), a longtime supporter of Neighborhood Health, and his wife, Megan, are the gala’s honorary chairs.

Congressman Beyer has a long history of supporting Neighborhood Health’s mission. Back in 2001 he helped introduce our small clinic to community leaders and hosted several receptions at his dealerships.

As a U.S. representative, he continues to advocate for improving access to health care in Northern Virginia.

At the gala, Neighborhood Health will present its inaugural Health Equity Award to 26 members of the Virginia General Assembly representing Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County in gratitude for helping to pass medical expansion in the Commonwealth.

Medicaid expansion will benefit many patients without health insurance across Northern Virginia. Yet there will still be many patients without health insurance. And there are people with insurance who still face barriers to care, whether because doctors don’t accept their insurance or they have high copays and deductibles or because of drug costs. There is still so much work ahead of us in order to ensure that everyone in our community has access to high quality and affordable health care.

The event will include a reception, silent and live auctions, seated dinner and music.

Sponsorships are available now. Neighborhood Health is also seeking donations to its auction such as sports or theater tickets, professional services, weekend getaways, restaurant meals, and more.

To purchase tickets, or for more information on sponsorships and donations, please visit or email

Over the years, Neighborhood Health has been recognized for its service to the communities it serves, including being named a recipient of the federal government’s Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Quality Award for the fourth year in a row.

Neighborhood Health administrators realize that all they have been able to accomplish could not have been done without the support of numerous community partners including local health departments, human services departments, community services boards, school systems, hospitals, and many others.

Strong partnerships are critical to Neighborhood Health’s ability to meet the multiple and complex needs of our patients. We are thankful for the creativity, support and collaboration of all of our partners.