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Real Estate Bisnow
June 12, 2008



DC Primary Care Association CEO Sharon Baskerville doesn't pull punches. On health care industry players avoiding change: "I'm tired of grown people who should know better." That may just be non-profit posturing. But the DCPCA's staggering success—$21M for new health centers and $11M for electronic equipment—proves this coalition of primary care centers in underserved communities is not any nonprofit. We stopped by Sharon's office to see how to move mountains without breaking a sweat.


Sharon won the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award in 2006, used its $100,000 prize to start the Adolescent Wellness Institute, and used the trophy as a plant holder.


The DCPCA graduated from long-time silent partner to industry leader in May by announcing a $6M city grant to create a DC Regional Health Information Organization, adding to a $5M grant for electronic medical records, which will link local health centers. When implemented, patients can walk into any health center in the program (three so far, three more by September) and their medical info will be available to the doctor. Gone are wasteful duplicate tests or misdiagnoses based on lost paper files or poor communication. Sharon says DC's biggest hospitals (whose ER's end up treating many of these patients) have been hesitant to sign on because of concern that pooling information threatens the bottom line. She's confident they'll join soon because "We have the money."


When it formed in 1998, the DCPCA had a $115,000 budget and a one room sublet. Now it's at $20 million, 25 staff members, and two floors on K Street. Another big project is Medical Homes DC, a $21M effort to build and upgrade DC's health centers including 5 new centers east of the Anacostia. Sharon says they also led an effort to create a captive insurance company to subsidize malpractice insurance for primary care physicians in underserved communities. They snagged city funding by arguing it was a public health issue not to offer the subsidy.


Backing the timeline up to 1978, Sharon was a mother of three living in Shaw when she sought medical attention at Community Medical Care. The doctor must've had a good bedside manner because she stuck around for 20 years first as a receptionist and ending as executive director before being recruited to DCPCA. With only a high school diploma from Myrtle Beach, and a trail of success at Community Medical, she became DCPCA's first (and only) Executive Director. Her two stress relief methods could not be more different than each other. Most times she'll turn to her alter-ego, a blues DJ in the online universe Second Life. But some days, nothing beats a single malt scotch.

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