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Whitman-Walker posts $2.6 million surplus

‘One of the most successful years in history’



Don Blanchon, Whitman-Walker Health, gay news, Washington Blade

‘By adopting a greater emphasis on community, caring and quality, we produced results for the community that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago,’ said Whitman-Walker director Don Blanchon.

Whitman-Walker Health, a D.C. community health center with special expertise in LGBT and HIV care, announced last week that its revenue in 2011 exceeded its expenses by more than $2.6 million, marking the second year in a row that it has sustained a budget surplus.

In a statement released on March 5, Whitman-Walker said it cared for 15,515 individuals in 2011, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the number of clients it cared for in 2010. It said its patient base has nearly doubled since it began the process of becoming a primary care community health center in 2006.

“2011 was one of the most successful years in Whitman-Walker’s history,” said Executive Director Don Blanchon.

“By adopting a greater emphasis on community, caring and quality, we produced results for the community that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago,” he said. “And we show no signs of slowing down in 2012.

Blanchon has been credited by Whitman-Walker’s board and community supporters with changing its direction at a time when it faced near financial collapse in 2006 and its ability to continue operating was in question.

The budget surplus, which Whitman-Walker refers to as an “operating gain,” was used to pay off its outstanding line of credit and reduce its accounts payable, the statement says.

“We can attribute our financial success to three factors,” said Blanchon. “First, more patient care produced higher revenues, largely from third-party health insurance payments and prescription drug sales. Second, our fundraising efforts exceeded our projections for the first time in at least five years. Third, our new operating culture emphasizes the importance of living within our means.”

Whitman-Walker’s statement did not include the health center’s total revenue and expenses for 2011.

In its IRS reports filed in 2009 and 2010, Whitman-Walker reported 2010 revenue of $16.7 million and expenses for that year of $15.6 million, yielding a surplus of just over $1 million.

Its 990 report for 2009 showed total revenue of $15.3 million, total expenses of $15.9 million, with a deficit of $660,567.

Whitman Walker spokesperson Chip Lewis said that due to IRS filing requirements, the health center’s 990 reports don’t reflect its income it receives through its pharmacy. He said when pharmacy income is included Whitman-Walker’s total revenue came to $16.8 million in 2009, $20.8 million in 2010, and $26.3 million in 2011.

In its statement released last week, Blanchon said Whitman-Walker Health’s current patient base is represented by all eight of the city’s wards and the diversity of its patients “reflects a tremendous diversity across the entire metro D.C. community.”

The statement included this demographic breakdown of Whitman-Walker’s patients/clients:

• Gender: 68 percent male; 29 percent female; three percent transgender, “with the number of transgender patients increasing by 185 percent since 2006.”

• Race/ethnicity: 48 percent black; 37 percent white; 15 percent “other or unknown;” 14 percent Hispanic

• Age: Four percent younger than 21; 33 percent between 21 and 30; 25 percent between 31 and 40; 20 percent between 41 and 50; 13 percent between 51 and 60; and 5 percent older than 60

• Sexual orientation: 50 percent “self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual;” 50 percent self-identified as heterosexual.

“The number of LGB patients has increased by 77 percent since 2006,” the statement says. Twenty percent of all patients were HIV positive, said Lewis.



New CDC report finds transgender women at higher risk for HIV

More than 1,600 people in seven cities surveyed



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (Photo courtesy of the CDC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new study report this week that revealed that restricted by employment and housing discrimination and lack of access to needed gender-affirming healthcare for transgender women increasing the risk of contracting HIV. 

Researchers reviewed data from a 2019-2020 survey, the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Among Transgender Women, which found that the demographics of HIV/AIDS have been disproportionally high, especially among Black and Latina trans women, who had experienced employment and housing discrimination coupled with lack of access to gender-affirming healthcare.

The Jan. 25 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report was based on data studies of more than 1,600 trans women in seven major urban locales. Participants from Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle were chosen by referrals from people and community-based organizations who knew or were part of the local population of trans women.

The study’s researchers noted: “Employment discrimination occurs at the overlapping nexus of poverty, homelessness, incarceration, health insurance, disability, food insecurity and survival sex work. These issues are interconnected.”

The study stated that trans women’s inability to access quality healthcare, including gender-affirming treatment or access to PrEP, and can expose them to potential incarceration as many turn to “survival sex work” and violence, which increases the risk of contracting HIV. 

The study’s author’s pointed out: “When economically marginalized transgender women are refused employment, this refusal cyclically contributes to economic hardships. This analysis …demonstrates the importance of transgender women working and living with dignity and without fear of unfair treatment.”

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A Whole New Perspective on Well-Being

The Mather’s team recognizes that everyone’s wellness journey is completely unique to their life experiences and influences.



The Mather is incorporating biophilic design—a design approach to facilitate access to nature or things that replicate natural patterns.

It’s easy to spot the distinctive, elegant silhouette of The Mather, a Life Plan Community for those 62+ opening this spring in Tysons, Virginia. What is not apparent to the naked eye is The Mather’s unique wellness philosophy, which is literally built into the community. 

The Mather’s team recognizes that everyone’s wellness journey is completely unique to their life experiences and influences.

Nature is one of the important factors that contribute to well-being. So The Mather is incorporating biophilic design—a design approach to facilitate access to nature or things that replicate natural patterns. This can include interior spaces with sightlines to a garden, choosing natural wood and stone as interior materials, or incorporating fragrant flowers and plants indoors to spark memories and provide tactile opportunities such as gardening. 

Residents of The Mather will be able to select from plentiful amenities, programs, and other offerings to target their personal wellness goals and preferences.

“Providing biophilic design within interior settings connects residents to the natural world,” says Mary Leary, CEO and President of Mather, the organization behind The Mather. “Research shows that a connection to nature provides positive benefits to mental states and overall well-being. At The Mather, biophilic design is the intersection of buildings and programs with nature in an urban setting.”

“The Mather is attracting a diverse group of older adults,” says Mary. “As a result, we aim to incorporate wellness practices from around the world, including Wyda movement theory of the Celtic Druids, which helps people achieve harmony with nature and contentment through mindfulness.” This holistic regenerative approach is similar to Qi Gong and yoga, while born in a different part of the world. Mather Institute has a special focus on mindfulness to support older adults’ practice of present moment awareness, which can lead to increased overall well-being, compassion, and joy.

A very different example of a wellness offering at The Mather is the Gharieni Welnamis spa wave bed, which uses computer-controlled vibrational therapy and audio frequencies to train the brain to relax. “The bed increases mindfulness, concentration, and creativity—all of which support our mission of creating Ways to Age Well,SM” says Mary.

These and other personalized ways to wellness will ensure that residents of The Mather can choose from seemingly countless ways to focus on their well-being. In other words, the sky’s the limit!

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Cases of multi-drug resistant gonorrhea ‘super strain’ multiply

CDC and WHO have once again sounded alarm about STI



Gonorrhea bacterium (CDC/Los Angeles Blade graphic)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the World Health Organization  are raising red flags for the second time this year as cases multiply of a “super strain” of drug-resistant gonorrhea globally, but particularly among men who have sex with men. 

This strain of gonorrhea has been previously seen in Asia-Pacific countries and in the U.K., but not in the U.S. A genetic marker common to two Massachusetts residents and previously seen in a case in Nevada, retained sensitivity to at least one class of antibiotics. Overall, these cases are an important reminder that strains of gonorrhea in the U.S. are becoming less responsive to a limited arsenal of antibiotics.

Gonorrhea is a STI with most people affected between ages 15-49 years. Antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhea has increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced the options for treatment.

Last February, cases of XDR, or “extensively drug resistant,” gonorrhea, are on the rise in the U.S., the CDC said.

Gonococcal infections have critical implications to reproductive, maternal and newborn health including:

  • a five-fold increase of HIV transmission
  • infertility, with its cultural and social implications
  • inflammation, leading to acute and chronic lower abdominal pain in women
  • ectopic pregnancy and maternal death
  • first trimester abortion
  • severe neonatal eye infections that may lead to blindness.

This past January, Fortune reported the U.S. is experiencing “a rising epidemic of sexually transmitted disease,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said with some experts referring to the issue as a “hidden epidemic.” 

Cases of gonorrhea — an STI that often shows no signs, but can lead to genital discharge, burning during urination, sores, and rashes, among other symptoms — rose by 131 percent nationally between 2009 and 2021, according to public health officials. While rates of STI transmission in the U.S. fell during the early months of the pandemic, they surged later in the year, with cases of gonorrhea and syphilis eventually surpassing 2019 levels, according to the CDC.

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