March 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Whitman-Walker posts $2.6 million surplus

‘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.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Great story and great success for WWH. Congratulations to Don Blanchon and all the staff at Whitman Walker.

  • I commend WW and Blanchon for turning things around; particularly in a recession. I do wish Blanchon and his surrogates had not stomped all over some very good people during this recovery period. He could have achieved the same results without some of the “carnage.”

  • Pruning off over-priced deadweight, which is what Whitman Walker Clinic appears to have done, is hardly “stomping all over” anyone. You hang around too long, producing less and less, all the while demanding more and more, just for hanging around, in this economy means losing your employment. That’s just the way it is. Kudos to the Clinic for knowing where its loyalty must lie, and that is to its clients and its funding sources.

  • It looks like WW is finally operating like any other medical practice — receiving income from patients, insurance providers, and pharmacy sales. After years of struggling with finances, despite the generous contributions of the LGBT community, they are finally able to stand on their own two feet. It’s time to take them off life support and steer our contributions towards more needy LGBT organizations.

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