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“The Gateway” Newsletter – April 2017

Meet Our Volunteer: Elijah Welenc

In recognition of National Volunteer Month, meet Equitas Health volunteer Elijah Welenc. After attending new volunteer orientation just a few months ago, Elijah has jumped in head first to a multitude of volunteer opportunities. From helping students at the first ever Greater Dayton LGBTQ+ Youth Summit to working closely with our Dayton prevention department, Elijah has quickly become a valuable resource for our organization.

Elijah shared with us why he volunteers. “I initially volunteered with Equitas Health to better connect with the local LGBTQIA+ community. The Dayton prevention team helped me learn more about why Equitas Health’s work makes such a difference on the local level, and I am excited to help the team achieve their mission. For me, volunteering with Equitas Health is a way of supporting the entire community—both the people I care about, and those I haven’t met yet. Every one of us has a right to help build our future together.”

Learn more about the different volunteer opportunities offered at Equitas Health by visiting equitashealth.com/get-involved/volunteer. If you’re interested in volunteering or have any questions, contact our Volunteer Manager, Ashley McIntosh at ashleymcintosh@equitashealth.com.

 

Equitas Health’s New Medical Team Leader

Chad M. Braun, MD has been named Chief Medical Officer for Equitas Health effective June 1, 2017. A former member of our Board of Trustees, Dr. Braun brings 15 years of experience and leadership into the newly created role. He previously served as the Director of Medical Education for Mount Carmel Health System in Columbus, Ohio.

In his new role, Dr. Braun will work oversee the medical teams at all three medical centers and work closely with Medical Directors of Infectious Diseases, Michael Para, MD in Columbus and Rich Groger, MD in Dayton.  Dr. Braun will also manage all medical operations and strategy as well as provide patient care. His hiring comes after our mission expansion last year, which extended our comprehensive patient-centered care services to LGBTQ individuals and others seeking a welcoming healthcare home. Those services include primary care, specialized medical care, health navigation, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services.

“I am really excited to join Equitas Health in this role,” commented Dr. Braun. “Healthcare in our country is rapidly changing and Equitas Health has demonstrated incredible innovation to keep up with those changes. The organization’s unique approach to addressing the healthcare needs of HIV-positive, LGBTQ, and other medically underserved populations has proven successful and I’m eager to continue to move that success forward. I know all too well the challenges we face in addressing LGBTQ health disparities and I look forward to increasing the organization’s capacity to deliver high quality care for all.”

 

Equitas Health Expands HIV/AIDS Services to Youngstown

Youngstown has been added to Equitas Health’s service area, making it our 15th office and the 11th city in Ohio. The addition of this location comes after COMPASS, a social service organization in Youngstown, transitioned its Ryan White Part B HIV/AIDS medical case management program to Equitas Health beginning April 1. The decision to transition services was based on Equitas Health’s extensive case management footprint across Ohio. Five staff members have transitioned from COMPASS to Equitas Health as new employees to provide continuity of care to more than 250 HIV-positive clients. The new office serves Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Jefferson counties.

Temporarily, services will continue to be provided at 535 Marmion Ave. until the office moves to its long-term location at the Oak Hill Renaissance Building at 345 Oak Hill Ave.

Racial and ethnic minorities in the Youngstown area are disproportionately affected in terms of new HIV diagnoses. According to the most recent Ohio Department of Health data, 45% of new HIV diagnoses were among African American men, despite accounting for only 16% of men in Mahoning county. Also among new cases, 14% were Hispanic men, who represent less than 2% of the population.

 

Why We Walk: 2017 AIDS Walk Ohio

This month Equitas Health will bring together communities across Ohio through our annual AIDS Walk Ohio events. Much progress has been made since the dark days at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. We’ve helped people come out of the shadows and seek treatment. We’ve developed a better understanding of the disease and treatment options. We’ve raised awareness about the importance of getting tested. And most recently, we’ve empowered people by connecting them with a once daily pill, known as PrEP, that prevents the transmission of HIV.

But our fight is far from over. In Ohio, approximately 24,000 people are currently living with HIV. 1-in-8 HIV-positive people don’t know their status, don’t receive HIV medical care, and can pass the virus on to others. If current trends continue, 1-in-6 gay or bi-sexual men will contract HIV in their lifetime. Participating in AIDS Walk Ohio events taking place this month is one way to stop these trends.

Teddy Thomas, a Daytonian who’s been a part of Equitas Health’s Mu Crew since 2014, is looking forward to this year’s walk. “I walk because Mu Crew has helped me teach others about HIV awareness and safety. I want to be a part of creating a world where people aren’t afraid to talk about being HIV-positive. Participating in AIDS Walk Ohio helps me do that,” said Teddy. He also receives care at Equitas Health’s Dayton Medical Center and Pharmacy and is thankful for the social services it provides. “Their housing assistance program allowed me to stay in Ohio and avoid homelessness. I would have a very different life if it weren’t for Equitas Health,” said Teddy. Teddy has achieved “Grand Walker” status by raising at least $1,000 to support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. This is his second year achieving that milestone and he hopes to defend his title as the top fundraiser in Dayton again this year.

Whether you walk in memory of someone who’s passed, in celebration of someone who’s survived, or in solidarity with those affected or at-risk of HIV, your participation is necessary to continue making progress until one day when we have a cure.

To register and participate visit aidswalkohio.com.

AIDS Walk Greater Dayton | SAT, APR 22 | 10 AM | Fifth Third Field Plaza

Come out and cheer people on as they return and enjoy music by DJ Dayna, food by the Drunken Waffle and the Wicked ‘Wich of Dayton, and craft beer from Warped Wing Brewery.

AIDS Walk Greater Toledo | SAT, APR 29 | 9 AM | Ottawa Park

Join us at our new location at the Ottawa Park Pearson Shelter.


SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS

Equitas Health Named Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality for Second Year in a Row by Human Rights Campaign Foundation

Equitas Health has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization for the second year in a row. The designation was reported in the 10th edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), reflecting on a decade of progress in LGBTQ healthcare.

Equitas Health is one of a select group of 302 healthcare facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. READ MORE

Equitas Health Awarded Funding for New HIV Prevention Program for Transgender and Gender Non-conforming People of Color

Equitas Health is among 7 community-based organizations awarded funding by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to implement comprehensive HIV prevention programs focused on young transgender and gender non-conforming people of color, and their partners. Equitas Health’s grant award totaled $1.9 million to launch this five-year program. These new HIV prevention services will complement the nonprofits other specialized health services for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, which include specialized primary care, hormone therapy through an informed consent model, behavioral health, and name and gender change legal services.

The goal of this new program will be to decrease morbidity, mortality, and health disparities in this target population by providing HIV testing, linkage to medical treatment for HIV-positive individuals, linkage to PrEP/PEP for HIV-negative persons at high risk for HIV, linkage to essential support services to promote health and wellness, and engagement through the high impact prevention program PROMISE.

This funding will allow Equitas Health to hire 4 new positions to support this new program, including a program manager, outreach coordinator, engagement specialist, and program support specialist. Click here to learn more about these position openings.

Project INK Sex (Ed) in the Streets Mini-Series

Project INK, Ohio HIV/STI Hotline and GCMC are proud to present their newest mini-series “Sex (Ed) in the Streets”. Episode 1: Condom Conundrum.

“Sex (Ed.) in the Streets” is a program in celebration of Sexual Health Awareness Month throughout the month of April. Cameras will follow Charles Abernathy,  Mpowerment Coordinator (GCMC), as he quizzes people on the streets of Columbus, to find out how much they really know about Sexual Health! Creative direction and production of the show is administered by RaShae Ward (Project INK/Ohio HIV Hotline) and Daryl Griffith (Project INK). And introducing filmography from Royal Standard Productions. Click here to watch the first episode.


UPCOMING EVENTS

AIDS Walk Ohio

APR 22 | Dayton
APR 29 | Toledo

Fundraising for AIDS Walk Central Ohio continues through April 28.

Become a “Grand Walker” by raising $1,000 and be entered to win a trip for 4 (four) to Hawaii for 8 day/9 nights!

Can’t make it? Purchase a $20 AIDS Walk Ohio Red Ribbon Project sign that will display your reason for supporting AIDS Walk Ohio along the walk route.

 

Amber

Name and Gender Change Legal Clinic

APR 25 | 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM | Columbus | Youth 12-20 years old and their parents/guardians only
MAY 10 | 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM | Youngstown
MAY 17 | 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM | Mansfield

Trained attorneys will provide one-on-one counseling about the gender- and name-changing process. Registration is preferred, but walk-ins are welcome. To register, email legalclinic@equitashealth.com or call (614) 340-6729.

 

King-Lincoln Medical Center and Pharmacy Community Open House

MAY 6 | 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM | 750 E. Long St. Ste 3000

Join Equitas Health as we celebrate the opening of our new Medical Center and Pharmacy. Meet our staff and providers, tour the space, and learn about services. READ MORE.