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Peter’s Take: Free Clinic Still Vital to our Safety Net

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotAs I wrote in a column a few months ago, it’s important every so often to take a step back and recognize organizations that provide vital services in our community. In that earlier column, I profiled AFAC—the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Today, I’d like to highlight the Arlington Free Clinic.

AFC’s mission is to provide free, high-quality medical care to low-income, uninsured Arlington County adults. AFC relies on private donations and volunteer services. In the wake of passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the natural question arises: is there a continuing need for AFC and the services it provides?

The answer definitely is: yes.

AFC has spent a considerable amount of time evaluating the potential impacts of the ACA on AFC’s work. AFC has reached these important conclusions:

  • many of AFC’s current patients now will be able to get health insurance due to passage of the ACA,
  • but a significant number of AFC-qualified Arlington adults will remain uninsured, and
  • the number of AFC-qualified Arlington adults will still exceed AFC’s resources to provide care for them.

In light of these conclusions, AFC has decided to:

  • provide existing AFC patients information about the ACA, and connect them with assistance to help those eligible to get insurance,
  • transition some patients from AFC to new health care providers, and
  • provide care to more uninsured, low-income Arlingtonians whom AFC previously had not been able to serve.

More details about the impact of the ACA on AFC are here.

Those Arlington residents whom AFC will continue to serve will have access to a full range of medical services provided on-site within AFC’s primary care setting. Other services, including diagnostic procedures, are provided by AFC’s community partners. The care available through AFC includes:

  • Primary care
  • Specialty medical care in anesthesiology, cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, ENT, gastroenterology, hematology, nephrology, oncology, ophthalmology, optometry, orthopedics, pathology, podiatry, psychiatry,  pulmonology, radiology, rheumatology, surgery and urology
  • Women’s health including annual screening for cervical cancer and access to free mammography for women aged 40 and above
  • Mental health
  • Physical therapy
  • Pharmacy services
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Patient education programs in breast health, diabetes care, nutrition, asthma care, osteoporosis, and oral health
  • Patient support groups

There are a variety of ways in which you can learn more information about AFC.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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