January 13, 2010

Hoping for health

A message from George A. Jones, Executive Director.

With a very challenging year behind us, I am pleased to report some great news. Construction is well underway on the long-planned major expansion of Bread for the City’s Northwest Center facility. This expanded facility will be more than two times the current size of our Northwest Center, providing much needed space to all of our programs—each of which have grown at a remarkable rate in recent years.

Above all other things, this expansion will be a great step forward for our Medical program. The new building will feature twice as many exam rooms, enabling us to triple the amount of care that we can provide to our community. This growth can’t come at a more critical time. For years, our hallways have been crowded and our workspaces have been cramped. This month, for the first time in our 35-year history, we had to close our medical clinic to all new patients— because we simply didn’t have the room.

This shortage of health care is a matter with which our nation is all too familiar. For a year (well, for a lifetime, really) we’ve been embroiled in a debate about national health care reform that only gets more confusing and dire as the legislation piles up and the expenditures skyrocket. I fear that even if our leaders are successful at getting reform underway, we will still be far from a just and equitable health care system.

It really shouldn’t be this complicated. I believe that access to health care is a basic human right. That was the formative principle behind the founding of Bread for the City, back when our medical clinic was known as the Zacchaeus Free Clinic. And it’s the formative principle now behind our expansion.

For this, too, I am proud of the community we serve, our nation’s capital. Thanks to smart leadership from our political leaders and community groups like the DC Primary Care Association, DC has one of the best health care infrastructure systems in the country. In 2001, DC created the DC Health Care Alliance, which is like our very own public option. With the Alliance, DC is the rare city that can say that more than 90% of its residents have insurance. With the support of the Alliance, and transformative funding from the city, the District features a strong network of community clinics that are available to low income individuals who—in other parts of the country—would have no options whatsoever.

However, even with the Alliance, many of our neighbors lack sufficient access to health care. Bread for the City is not the only clinic at capacity. But we can see progress—right in our very own lot, where construction proceeds apace. We are so proud to be a part of that progress.
Stand with us in this exciting, challenging year ahead: join our Capital Campaign.

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