March 22, 2021 – CreakyJoints®, the multi-cultural digital arthritis community for patients and caregivers worldwide and part of the Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF), today announced that in 2021 they will provide administrative, education, support, advocacy and research to the newly named John Whelton Arthur Virshup CreakyJoints South Florida Arthritis Clinic. GHLF will also guarantee the clinic’s future financial viability. Established in 1975 by rheumatologists Dr. John Whelton and Dr. Arthur Virshup, for whom the clinic is now named, the John Whelton Arthur Virshup CreakyJoints South Florida Arthritis Clinic serves South Florida arthritis patients who cannot afford treatment, providing regular and free rheumatology care to more than 100 area patients. CreakyJoints is replacing the Arthritis Foundation which recently ended its commitment to fund the clinic operations.
Once a month, rheumatologists volunteer their time to care for patients at their private offices in Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Stuart, and West Palm Beach, Florida. These patients receive consistent and high-quality care identical to patients seen in private practice and have access to laboratory and imaging services subsidized by local supporters, including Quest Diagnostics and Diagnostic Centers of America. It can be difficult to find a rheumatologist who takes Medicaid, so the clinic accepts referrals from community physicians, as well as from other health care non-profits in the area such as Volunteers in Medicine and the HANDS clinic in Martin County. ln Palm Beach County, Project Access, a part of the Palm Beach County Medical Society Services, Caridad and Genesis Clinics, and Florida Atlantic University clinic, whose residents do a rheumatology rotation with Rheumatology Associates of S. Florida (clinic doctors), all refer patients. In Broward County, Light of the World Clinic is a referring partner. Nationally, the Lupus Foundation also refers patients.
A Smooth Transition
“When we learned that our physical clinic home in West Palm Beach, plus our administrative and financial support were going away, we were concerned about the risk of our patients falling through the cracks,” said Michael C. Schweitz, MD, a longtime volunteer rheumatologist with the clinic, past president of the Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations (CSRO), and past president of the Florida Society of Rheumatology.
“We’re thrilled to work directly with CreakyJoints and look forward to welcoming new community supporters. Now more than ever, it’s important to work together to prioritize the needs of our patients”, he added.
Shawn Baca, MD, another long-time volunteer rheumatologist who is also past president of the Palm Beach County Medical Society, a member of the Florida AMA delegation, and in private practice said, “We are going to get this clinic back on solid financial footing, and our ultimate goal is expansion of these services to other communities. CreakyJoints and local community supporters have committed to help us.”
Kelly Skidmore, District 81 Florida State Representative, is a big supporter of the new clinic. “I applaud the work these local doctors have done and will now continue to do with CreakyJoints’ support.” Rep. Skidmore is also the CEO of the Palm Beach County Medical Society.
Louis Tharp, cofounder and executive director of CreakyJoints and the Global Healthy Living Foundation said, “We immediately agreed to provide financial and operational support to ensure that rheumatology patients would continue to have access to their doctors. Having worked with some of the clinic’s rheumatologists for more than a decade, we have great respect for them, their staff, and associated health care providers who for years have contributed unselfishly to the underserved patient communities in South Florida. Our role is both to support continuity of care for these vulnerable patients as well as to establish best practices for reaching and treating underserved rheumatic patients.”
To learn more about the John Whelton Arthur Virshup CreakyJoints South Florida Arthritis Clinic visit https://awareness.creakyjoints.org/free-clinic/
CreakyJoints® is a digital community for millions of arthritis patients and caregivers worldwide who seek education, support, advocacy, and patient-centered research. We represent patients in English and Spanish through our popular social media channels, our websites, and the 50-State Network, which includes more than 1,600 trained volunteer patient, caregiver, and health care activists.
Part of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, CreakyJoints also has a voluntary patient-reported outcomes registry called ArthritisPower® (ArthritisPower.org), which includes tens of thousands of consented arthritis patients who track their disease while volunteering to participate in longitudinal and observational research. CreakyJoints publishes the popular “Raising the Voice of Patients” series, which offers downloadable patient-centered educational and navigational tools for managing chronic illness. It also hosts PainSpot (PainSpot.org), a digital risk-assessment tool for musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, and eRheum (eRheum.org), for telehealth and virtual-care support. All programming is free, always. For more information and to become a member, visit CreakyJoints.org.
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CreakyJoints Español: CJES.org
CreakyJoints Australia: CreakyJoints.org.au
CreakyJoints Canada: CreakyJoints.ca
Global Healthy Living Foundation: ghlf.org
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