Corktown Health, Michigan’s first medical home for the queer community, just announced a new initiative — the Driving Health Equity Campaign — to raise $8 million to expand care, including opening a second clinic in Hazel Park. The initiative was announced June 22 at the former lumber yard and brewery that will house the 17,000-square-foot clinic at 24310 John R Road. The new location, Corktown Health @ Hazel Park, will offer a full range of services similar to the original clinic location in Detroit.
Expansion into Oakland County has been a part of the clinic’s strategic plan for some time now.
“Southern Oakland County offers a great geographic balance to our downtown home,” said Corktown Health CEO Anthony O. Williams. “It will increase accessibility for people across the region, including those who live in Macomb, Oakland and northern Wayne Counties.”
Initially, Corktown Health planned to open a second clinic in Ferndale but the project was sidetracked by Covid. Hazel Park, said Williams, has been incredibly welcoming for a growing number of LGBTQ+ residents.
“The city and surrounding communities remain among the more affordable areas with housing opportunities still available for lower and middle income people,” he said. “We will be a part of the city’s plans for a reinvigorated downtown. In addition, our site will support the goals of the Oakland Health 360 initiative to make health care and support services available to the more than 227,000 county residents who are uninsured or underinsured.”
Corktown Health is working with Albert Kahn Associates to design “a truly welcoming and well-designed space,” which is scheduled to open by the end of 2024. Services will be available to anyone, but with a focus on providing care for people who identify as LGBTQ+ and individuals living with HIV. Patients will be able to use their health insurance and lower income individuals or those with financial barriers will be offered a sliding scale fee and financial hardship program.
Corktown Health was launched in 2017 by the non-profit Health Emergency Lifeline Programs (HELP). Today, services include a full range of primary care, mental health and support services. Corktown Health serves over 4,000 people each year. More than $3 million has already been raised toward the Driving Health Equity Campaign from generous municipal, corporate and individuals during the silent phase of the campaign.
Williams, a proverbial proud papa, praised the “dedicated and talented” Corktown Health team “who impact people’s lives for the better every day. Corktown Health has helped address health care disparities in the LGBTQ+ community, and this expansion will allow us to do even more. I could not be more proud to be part of this effort.”
In addition to the new location in Hazel Park, Corktown Health has announced it will open the first queer-affirming non-profit dental clinic in the state with help from the Delta Dental Foundation. Expanding access to affirming dental care will allow the clinic to be more comprehensive in its efforts to advance health and wellbeing in the queer community.
“Oral health is a vital part of overall health that is often overlooked, and there are numerous disparities related to dental disease and care that affect our community,” said Williams. “In addition, adding dental services aligns with our long-term goal to achieve FQHC, or Federally Qualified Health Center, status for Corktown Health.”
Corktown Health worked with the Delta Dental Foundation and researchers at the Indiana University School of Dentistry on a study conducted in 2020-2021 looking at the experiences of LGBTQ+ people with dental care.
“We found LGBTQ+ respondents were significantly more likely to experience feelings of stigma and discrimination when accessing dental care than their non-LGBTQ+ peers,” Williams said. “We also identified barriers to care specifically among people living with HIV. With these findings in hand, we realized that incorporating dental care at Corktown Health was a logical next step towards reducing health disparities.”
Corktown Health dedicated capital to fund the construction and received generous support from the Delta Dental Foundation for clinic infrastructure. Long-time partners, including the Jewish Fund, Metro Health Foundation and Detroit Health Department HIV STI division, are assisting with dental program development. The clinic will open at Corktown Health’s Detroit facility and begin scheduling patients in late July.
To schedule an appointment, visit corktownhealth.org or call 888-435-5655.