Howard Brown Health’s clinic in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood provides a wide range of health care services, from primary care to sexual testing and prevention with a special focus on LGBTQ communities.
“Patients … could be coming in for anything from HIV follow-ups, to reproductive health and sexual health visits, to women’s health visits, to hormone care, hormone replacement therapy,” said Abbey Baus, a physician assistant and assistant site medical director at the clinic.
Like other health care providers, COVID-19 has forced Howard Brown to make some changes to how it operates. While its clinics around Chicago have reduced their hours since the pandemic began, they remain open for in-person visits and appointments, including the Lakeview location on Halsted Street.
“Of course, if there are emergency medical needs such as respiratory distress, 911 is still your best option for urgent care,” Baus said. “But if there are reasons why patients need to be seen in the office, they can be seen in the office and we’re making our clinics as safe as possible.”
Those safety precautions include screening everyone who comes into the clinic, and doing further assessments outside the building if someone has COVID-19 symptoms.
“That’s allowed us to keep our building safe and clear for people that really need to access our care, while also making sure that we’re protecting our staff and our other patients,” Baus said.
Howard Brown has also started offering telemedicine appointments during the pandemic. But Baus says it’s important the clinic remain open to in-person service, too.
“This pandemic really highlights the suppression of minority groups, and groups that already are underserved in this nation, such as folks from the African American and Latino community,” Baus said. “The LGBTQ community can be included in underrepresented and underserved communities that have been historically oppressed and continue to be oppressed. Seeking health care is very challenging … for a lot of our patients.”