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Arlington Free Clinic

Providing high-quality medical care to low-income, uninsured, Arlington County adults

Arlington Free Clinic provides free, high quality medical care to low-income uninsured Arlington County adults through the generosity of donors and volunteers.

Why should I support your work?

Every gift to Arlington Free Clinic is important and makes a difference. For every $1 donated, AFC provides a minimum of $6 worth of medical care. This strong ratio is due to AFC’s extraordinary ability to leverage the volunteer and charitable capacity of our community health system.  The impact of our work is not limited to our patients; it also impacts the financial health of our local hospitals and the health of the Arlington Community.

AFC is very unique in that it relies primarily on volunteers to provide medical care and donations from individuals, businesses, churches, civic associations, foundations and United Way to fund essential medical services. Less than 7% of AFC’s total budget of $2.6M is from public sources. Donations whether large or small are important and make the services the Clinic provides possible for so many in need in the Arlington community.

With the ongoing strong financial support of the community and the volunteer service of over 570 medical and non-medical volunteers, AFC will continue to provide vital health care to the most vulnerable.

Why does your charity exist?
  • AFC is Arlington’s only safety net provider of free comprehensive medical care for adults.
  • AFC is the only Clinic in Northern Virginia with on-site access to specialty care. We also have on-site pharmacy services, mental health, women’s health and physical therapy. Having all of our services in one convenient location (over half of the Clinic’s patients live in the same zip code as AFC) encourages compliance and facilitates coordination of care.
  • AFC is also the only Clinic that relies primarily on volunteers to provide our medical care and the only one that relies primarily on donations from individuals, businesses, civic associations, churches, foundations and United Way. Less than 7% of AFC’s total budget is from public sources.
  • AFC’s services are free- eliminating the most significant barrier to health care for our low income patients.
What have you accomplished?

Arlington Free Clinic provides high quality comprehensive medical care to low income, uninsured adults. Last year the Clinic treated 1,682 patients with over 9,000 medical appointments. Services include primary care, specialty medicine, integrated care management, women’s health, mental health services, physical therapy, full pharmacy services (18,038 prescriptions filled in FY13) and diagnostic testing. Today’s economy makes our mission more important than ever with more people losing their jobs and their health insurance. When patients get care here, we help them manage their conditions, keep them out of expensive emergency rooms, and better control health care spending.

Because of their low income and lack of medical insurance, many patients have never had access to regular health care and come to the Clinic with one or more chronic conditions that have gone untreated for years. Many patients have diabetes, hypertension and asthma. The Clinic also has numerous cancer patients, patients with lupus and patients on kidney dialysis. The needs of Arlington Free Clinic patients are frequently complicated and often urgent.  The story of Jenny is a good illustration.

Story of Jenny

Jenny was a non-smoker who ran marathons and consciously made good choices to be healthy and strong. She was a full time student half way through her PhD program.

For a couple of weeks she was feeling run down and went to her doctor. Within hours she was admitted to the hospital and received the diagnosis of acute leukemia.  She went from being a full time student to a full time cancer patient.

As terrifying as the diagnosis was, she had several reassuring thoughts. She could count on the support and love of family and friends and she had medical insurance.

Three days into her hospital chemo treatment, she found she was right about the family and friends, but wrong about the insurance. Her student health insurance policy had a $50,000 cap that had already been maxed out- AND the treatment protocol to rid her body of cancer was projected to go on for two years.

So – how did she go from a cancer patient with maxed out insurance to a cancer free graduate with a job offer?  Arlington Free Clinic!

For the past two years, she had access to all the medical services needed- including oncology, labs, medications, and care coordination. And now, once again, she actually feels strong and healthy.

Last March, she was thrilled to finish a half marathon. Everyone who helps support the Clinic played a part in her victory

How can I be sure you’ll use my money wisely?

AFC is an award winning organization and a careful steward of the donations it receives.

Since the Clinic was founded, it has maintained a clear focus on mission and a commitment to medical, organizational and operational excellence. Operational strengths include:

1) An active, engaged, knowledgeable and supportive Board of Directors,

2) Strategic planning to ensure progress toward clearly defined goals,

3)  Well thought-out program design and evaluation to ensure objectives are being achieved and that medical services are meeting patient/community needs,

4) Fiscal responsibility that includes an annual audit and active financial management by a Finance Committee that includes Board and community members and the Executive Director,

5) Resource development that is appropriately staffed, includes multiple sources of income and is transparent and accountable to funders,

6) Volunteer management that ensures volunteers are qualified, trained and appropriately placed,

7) Effective community partnerships that allow the Clinic to leverage services and maximize impact on the community.


Recent Accomplishments:

  • AFC once again received Charity Navigator’s top 4-Star rating for sound fiscal management and transparency.
  • AFC was again spotlighted by Catalogue for Philanthropy as one of the best small nonprofits in the Washington, DC region.
  • Last year, AFC’s Executive Director Nancy Pallesen was honored as a Washingtonian of the Year.
  • AFC’s Medical Director, Joan Ritter, was one of seven women who received the 2012 Toyota Tribute to Working Women Award for having made a dramatic difference in the community.
  • In 2009, AFC relocated to our permanent clinic facility just off Columbia Pike in the neighborhood where the majority of our patients live.  The Clinic space, which we own, was the first free clinic in the nation to earn LEED Gold certification for sustainable design and construction.