|On hand at the CHC 10th anniversary were (from l) NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz, Monsignor John Enzler, president and C.E.O. of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.
NIAMS recently marked the 10th anniversary of its Community Health Center (CHC) in a celebration
in its new location, the Spanish Catholic
Center, Cardinal McCarrick Center of Catholic
Charities in Silver Spring.
Founded by NIAMS and Washington, D.C., area community stakeholders in 2001, the CHC conducts
health disparities research in rheumatic diseases by providing specialty care to a traditionally
underserved patient population.
The clinical research conducted at the CHC helps NIAMS scientists better understand diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma
and gain insights about why some of these diseases disproportionately affect people in certain minority populations. The program provides area residents access to cutting-edge specialty care and health information, while offering clinical fellows a community-based learning experience in rheumatic diseases.
In recognition of the CHC’s accomplishments, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins gave the keynote
address at the anniversary celebration, followed
by speakers including Monsignor John Enzler, president and C.E.O. of Catholic Charities
of the Archdiocese of Washington, and Dr. Marguerite Duane, the Spanish Catholic Center’s
The event featured tours of the clinic and a slide show highlighting milestones in the CHC’s history
and the many people who have made it a success.
“In moments like this, my chest is bursting with pride that so many people are doing so many good things,” said NIAMS director Dr. Stephen
Katz. “It is an exceptional opportunity for NIH to be able to reach out and work as true partners in moving the science, as well as the health, of minority populations ahead.”
Since the program’s inception, the CHC has enrolled more than 2,000 patients and provided nearly 10,000 patient visits in the Natural History
of Rheumatic Disease in Minority Communities
Study, which allows researchers to evaluate disease and treatment courses in the local African-
American and Hispanic/Latino populations.
Collins commended the longevity and resiliency
of the CHC over the past 10 years. “This is a unique partnership with the community, where we are reaching out to try to assist patients afflicted with rheumatic diseases, giving them excellent care and an opportunity to be part of clinical research, which is all done in a fashion that focuses especially on those with less access generally to medical care,” he said.
Patient Erika Wilson gave an emotional testimony about her experiences at the CHC. “Before I first came to the Community Health Center, I couldn’t move my whole body,” she said. “I couldn’t do anything. I just lay in the bed. But when I came to the center, those doctors, they helped me a lot. This clinic has a mission to help a lot of people. That’s the truth. I can say it from my heart, because thanks to them, I am walking. I’m back to a normal life.”—Gerda Gallop-Goodman