BY PATRICK YANKEE
The opening of Corktown Health Center (CHC) as Michigan’s first nonprofit focused on
delivering health care services to the LGBTQ community is an incredible milestone for
Metropolitan Detroit and founding organization, Health Emergency Lifeline Programs
(HELP). Delivering HIV services since 1986, HELP’s leaders first envisioned the health center about five years ago. Since then, they have focused on researching, planning and transforming 25,000 square feet of warehouse space into a modern medical facility in the neighborhood where they have operated for over a decade. It has been a team effort for the staff, board and agency sponsors. CEO, Anthony Williams and COO, Teresa Roscoe, demonstrated leadership, engagement and persistence as the challenging work unfolded. Early this year, I was honored to join them in bringing together the resources to open the doors and to start developing new health programs at CHC.
An LGBTQ health center is hardly a new idea. Major cities have had them for years, and they play significant roles in the healthcare safety net in their communities. Around the country, we also see a growing number of HIV programs integrating onsite medical care as part of deliberate efforts towards accomplishing the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. After thirty years administering HIV funds, I have never seen such widespread reinvention of programs as I have recently followed in cities like Portland, Cleveland, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. Now we are putting Detroit on the map for advances in LGBTQ health.
Corktown Health Center launched patient care in August with a clinical team comprised of the Medical Director, Latonya Riddle-Jones, M.D., Nurse Practitioner, Patrice Wade-Olson, DNP and talented support staff. Additional capacity will be added soon thanks to funds from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Ryan White Program administered by the Detroit Health Department to expand HIV treatment access and establish a new PrEP program linked to the clinic.
A major collaborator in the development of the LGBTQ-centric health center is Wayne State University School of Medicine and its University Physicians Group. Dr. Riddle-Jones serves as Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine and has been developing LGBTQ training opportunities with leaders and colleagues at the School of Medicine and Graduate Medical Education programs. Under Dr. Riddle-Jones’ leadership, CHC has already expanded access to breast and cervical cancer screening for uninsured and underinsured patients through a new affiliation with the Tri-County Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (BCCCP) (see related article).
While many have played important roles in helping Corktown Health Center reach this point, special acknowledgements must go to the Harold & Carolyn Robison Foundation, the Metro Health Foundation and individual donors who have supported our work. We are still in the early stages of striving to achieve the full vision created for Corktown Health Center. I hope you will take a moment to visit http://www.corktownhealth.org to learn more about the services available and how you can support its work. More announcements, updates and opportunities to engage with CHC are coming soon. After all one milestone leads to the next.