HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, a Leesburg-based community health center, has returned to stable financial condition after a year of uncertainty, the organization’s top officials announced this month at a meeting of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors’ finance committee.
Tom Coughlin, president of HealthWorks’ board of directors, said the nonprofit group’s financial situation has improved significantly over the past year. As a result, HealthWorks is withdrawing its request for emergency funding from the county, he said.
HealthWorks had approached the board in April seeking financial support from the county. At that time, HealthWorks officials said the organization was operating with no cash reserves and a monthly deficit of $100,000.
“Last spring . . . our survival was in question,” Coughlin said at the meeting. “We were not sure we would be able to continue operations given our very severe deficit.”
As the only federally qualified community health center serving Loudoun and western Fairfax, HealthWorks provides primary medical services to residents regardless of their ability to pay. Its closure would have left thousands of residents — many with low incomes and lacking health insurance — without their primary source of medical care.
The board declined to provide the requested funding to HealthWorks last year, although it agreed to accelerate payment of a grant that had already been budgeted and to waive the organization’s 2015 property taxes. Board members said then that HealthWorks needed to demonstrate that its financial situation was improving before the supervisors would agree to commit additional county funds.
Coughlin said HealthWorks was able to reduce its operating costs by eliminating staff members and reorganizing its programs. Costly services, such as behavioral health and obstetric care, were shifted to the county’s health department, Inova Loudoun Hospital and other health-care providers, HealthWorks’ chief executive Carol Jameson said.
Jameson said the organization had also received significant commitments of financial support from Hospital Corporation of America and Inova. HCA provides support through Reston Hospital Center, which donates laboratory services for HealthWorks valued at $2 million a year, she said.
Inova has made a commitment of financial support for the next two years, Jameson said. A longtime partner of the community health center, Inova had withdrawn its financial support when the organization’s survival was in question. Inova declined to disclose how much cash was pledged, but Jameson said it is “significant.”
Coughlin said in an interview that the support from HCA and Inova is critical.
“I think it’s huge,” he said. “On top of the actual contributions, just that we are working in partnership with them as well as with other safety-net providers in the county, like the [Loudoun] Free Clinic and health department.”
Karen Berube, assistant vice president for population health at Inova, said in a statement that safety-net programs need to be able to show they are providing their patients with good medical care.
“HealthWorks has done this,” she said. “They have demonstrated their ability to remain sustainable and have restructured the organization to improve quality as well as productivity.”
Barnes is a freelance writer.