First lady Dr. Jill Biden on Friday visited the D.C-based Whitman-Walker Health HIV/AIDS clinic, which has been serving the D.C-area since 1973 as a clinic for the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities.
Jill Biden’s visit was intended “to highlight and promote support services for cancer patients and caregivers, as well as hear about the impact of COVID-19 on access to health care, including cancer screenings and prevention efforts,” per the guidance.
At the clinic, Jill Biden met with Naseema Shafi, CEO of Whitman Walker Health, and Kim Thiboldeaux, chief executive officer of the Cancer Support Community.
Among the questions the first lady asked were how is the clinic getting the word out to patients and how is it addressing mental health issues.
Broadband access was also discussed as health officials said Medicare and Medicaid patients not being able to do televisits. Jill Biden noted that many teachers “can’t reach a lot of their students” and the issue must be addressed nationally.
She concluded public remarks at the clinic by saying President Biden wants to take care of the virus, get everyone vaccinated, then move on to other priorities.
The Blade notes that Jill Biden wasn’t the first person to tour the clinic as first lady. “In 1989, Barbara Bush visited the clinic, where she held a baby and hugged a gay man who were both dying of AIDS. Hillary Clinton as first lady and Bernadatte Chirac, former first lady of France, have also visited the clinic. Following the visit to the clinic, Jill Biden made a surprise stop to the U.S. Capitol, where she delivered a basket of cookies to U.S. service members in honor of the National Guard. One appeared to hand her a challenge coin. The service members posed for a group photo, then uttered a “hooah” in salute.”
.@FLOTUS will tour Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C., tomorrow. Whitman-Walker offers affirming community-based health with a special expertise in LGBTQ and HIV care. pic.twitter.com/fARk2saqoE
— GLAAD (@glaad) January 22, 2021
Cancer touches so many families.
Thank you @whitmanwalker and @cancersupporthq for hosting me today to talk about support for cancer patients and caregivers, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on access to health care, screenings, and prevention efforts. pic.twitter.com/IUO7JODLxE
— Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) January 22, 2021
“Dr. Biden held an open conversation in front of White House pool press with Shafi, Thiboldeaux, and others at the clinic who serve patients with HIV and AIDS. She also ran into patients seeking PrEP or other sexual health services,” reports LGBTQNation. “She addressed concerns about the accessibility issues that many of Walker-Whitman’s patients, among others, face in trying to set-up or attend televisits. Dr. Biden, who remains an educator, said that she heard similar issues amongst the other educators she sat and talked to within her first full day in the first lady capacity.”
“You know we’re in your corner,” she said.
“By prioritizing the foremost LGBTQ community health center in Washington, D.C. as one of her first public visits, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden has highlighted that the health and wellness of our community is a top priority,” President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Alphonso David said in a statement. He described Whitman-Walker Health as a “crucial” provider.
“From day one, the President and the First Lady’s commitment to taking immediate action to improve the lives of LGBTQ people has been a welcome breath of fresh air,” he added.
“…and appreciate their support and interest in what community-centered health care looks like — and the positive health outcomes that are possible when patients are made partners in their care plans.” #BidenHarris
— Whitman-Walker (@whitmanwalker) January 22, 2021