At a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by a heavy contingent of regional political and influencer leaders yesterday morning, it was confirmed that the City of Falls Church is now home to the giant Inova Health System’s first ever Pride Clinic, dedicated to the care of LGBTQ+ patients. It is located at 500 N. Washington Street.
Filling a need that the system’s Karen Berube told the 50 gathered guests was first identified and has been working toward for 22 years, the clinic will offer a full array of services to LGBTQ+ community members it says are “more likely to delay care and less likely to have access to a culturally competent health care provider.”
“They are at risk for some health conditions that impact long-term health care outcomes.”
Dr. Jorge Romallo, the head of the clinic, underscored the importance of such an openly-identified service to an underserved community by telling the story of his own first visit as an adult to a health care facility in Cleveland.
He was worried, he said, that he’d be underserved if not slighted by his identification as a LGBTQ+ person until he saw in the waiting room a small rainbow flag posted on a bulletin board there. It changed everything for him, he said, and now this Pride Clinic will have this same impact for LGBTQ+ persons seeking “a safe space for comprehensive care.”
The only speaker from the local political delegation present was Falls Church Mayor David Tarter, who welcomed the new clinic, reading from the F.C. City Council’s Pride Month proclamation issued last week and citing the City’s recent action of raising a Pride flag at City Hall where it will remain this entire month.
Among other dignitaries present were a preponderance of members of the F.C. City Council, including Letty Hardi, Debbie Hiscott, Phil Duncan, Marybeth Connelly, Caroline Lian and Tarter, Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay and members John Foust and Dalia Palchik, and Virginia State lawmakers Marcus Simon, Patrick Hope, Adam Ebbin, Mark Keam and Ken Plum.
Dr. Steven Jones, the CEO of the Inova System, said in his remarks that he was “blown away by the unexpectedly large size of the turnout from persons dedicated to serving their communities.”
The new facility, he said, will not only fill a gap in Inova’s health care services, but it will also pave the way for “training the next generation” of health care providers. Prominent local primary care physician Dr. Gordon Theisz commented to the News-Press upon hearing the news yesterday, “This is a wonderful addition to the Falls Church medical community.”
The new Inova facility is described as “Northern Virginia’s first dedicated, comprehensive primary care home for our region’s LGBTQ+ community.”
In a statement circulated at the event, Inova is described as “a leader in health equity. Inova understands that the LGBTQ+ community has been at greater risk for health issues because of a lack of healthcare tailored to their unique needs. The clinic’s mission is to provide a respectful, affirmative and compassionate environment for a patient’s everyday healthcare needs. Our primary care doctors and team members are dedicated to providing inclusive and judgment-free care, answering questions and supporting long-term health and wellness without barriers. In addition to the full range of preventative care, health screenings and chronic disease management, Inova’s primary care doctors and team members are experienced in all LGBTQ+ specific health care needs, and including counseling for youth and adults about health, gender identity and sexuality.”
The Pride Clinic is located on the second floor of the 500 N. Washington St. building which was acquired by Inova a few years back from the Akridge real estate development company.
Akridge was unsuccessful in early efforts to submit mixed use development proposals to the City, the 2.6 acre location being considered attractive due to its proximity to the East Falls Church Metrorail station, and subsequently sold it in the spring of 2012 to Inova which has done little with it until now.