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Meet Clarissa M. Dudley, M.D., MPH

C Dudley

For Clarissa M. Dudley, M.D., MPH, medicine has often meant community medicine, whether internationally or locally, such as the Children’s National Diana L. and Stephen A. Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health, where she is an attending physician.

As Dr. Dudley sees it, the center is medicine for the body and mind. Dr. Dudley works at the Community Health Center at Shaw, which has wellness check-ups for children, but also helps teenage parents learn about disciplinary skills, or about setting the dinner table for proper nutrition. The center works with families about mental health and sociological needs. Because of its work, the center has been recognized as a patient-centered medical home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

It is one of six Goldberg community health practices affiliated with Children’s National to be given this certification, and the first pediatric practice in the District of Columbia to be so honored. Dr. Dudley played a key role in making that happen.

Dr. Dudley’s vast experience as a physician, working for more than 17 years in community health throughout the world, from Arlington, Va., to Kenya, makes her a perfect fit for the community in which she now works. Dr. Dudley received her medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh and her master’s in public health at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Dudley is also Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at George Washington University. Dr. Dudley says the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health is embedded in the community, serving multiple generations of children and families.

“This practice is growing with new residents moving into the community and is deeply rooted in the community with patient families that have been coming here for more than 30 years,” Dr. Dudley says. “A grandmother would come here as a young person, and now her daughter who was seen here as a child is bringing her own child. We’re providing a model of care for everyone. Once or twice a week, a new mother comes here and seeks care for their child. There are a lot of wonderful things happening.”

Dr. Dudley embodies the mission of the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health, which is to build healthy communities through clinical care, advocacy, research and education, and reflects what a medical home personifies.

The center in the District of Columbia serves a vibrant community, including African Americans, Latinos, and Chinese Americans, particularly in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, which has become a thriving area. The patient population of the Community Health Center at Shaw includes 90 percent Medicaid recipients, Dr. Dudley says.

The Shaw center focuses on the varied needs of families and patients. A young mom, barely a child herself, may seek help disciplining her child. Others may need help with emotional needs. Teen patients receive counseling on career development and college choices. Newcomers to the community may need help selecting quality childcare or have questions about breastfeeding. The center has a garden where children and families are taught about natural foods. “Some children are not aware of where fresh fruit and vegetables come from,” Dr. Dudley says. The center strives to address the needs of all the families that it serves, she adds.

“It’s exciting what we are doing: to make a difference,” Dr. Dudley says.

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