WASHINGTON — After 50 years of leading the fight against HIV and AIDS, the Whitman-Walker Max Robinson Center is expanding its reach.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated the official grand opening of its new center on the campus of Saint Elizabeth East. It promises to change the face of healthcare for residents East of the River.
The new clinic at 1201 Sycamore Drive, SE opened its doors just about a month ago and doctors are already seeing an increase in new patients. The Max Robinson Center’s new 118-thousand square foot healthcare and research facility offers medical, dental, and behavioral health services. For medical director Dr. Stephen Abbott, it’s mission-driven work.
"We want to be a part of the solution to health disparities. Folks in Wards 7 and 8 have a higher rate of diabetes, HIV, perinatal mortality,” said Dr. Abbott. “And folks over here aren't living as long as everyone else in the city and that's an easy fix. We need to start providing care to everyone, equally throughout the city."
Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Debra Wells is living proof of the power of health care in your own neighborhood.
“My battle with drug addiction spanned over decades it threatened to ruin my life entirely, hepatitis C had taken over my body and I had cirrhosis of the liver. However, it was 2008 my life took a turn for the better it was the moment I walked through the doors of the Max Robinson center."
Wells joined city leaders and her neighbors Monday in a ceremony celebrating the new and improved center, named after legendary trailblazer Max Robinson, who was the first black broadcaster here in Washington, DC. He lost his life to AIDS in 1988.
"At the time he was a symbol of the face of the epidemic that it wasn't solely just a white gay man's disease,” explained Dr. Abbott, “We're known for the decades we've spent fighting the HIV epidemic, but we are more than an HIV clinic. We will continue to do primary care as well as gender affirming care."
The clinic also offers substance use treatment, adolescent care, and a pharmacy open to all.
The clinic is the latest in a $900 Million redevelopment investment plan in Saint E’s that will bring a full-service hospital in 2025.