Howard Brown Health Center is moving its major Lakeview clinic to a larger space in effort to expand services and provide health services to more people at a more prominent location.
The Chicago-based LGBT health center will move its Triad Health Practice to a nearly 4,000-square-foot site at 3245 N. Halsted St. from its current, smaller location on the seventh floor at 3000 N. Halsted St. in the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. The new storefront location, which is in front of one of the symbolic Halsted Street rainbow pylons and directly across the street from Steamworks, will afford the clinic greater visibility in the popular Boystown gay enclave of Lakeview, according to CEO Jamal Edwards.
“It was actually kind of odd to me because when you think about Halsted Street and you think about the role Howard Brown has played the last 40 years in the LGBT community, you’d think there would be some Howard Brown presence on Halsted Street,” Edwards said. ”And now there will be.”
The move is meant to increase the prominence of HBHC as an institution while doubling the size of the Triad Practice from about 2,000 patients up to nearly 5,000 in the first few years. The location has the capacity for 10,000 patients, around the amount seen at the Sheridan Road clinic, said Edwards.
In addition to increasing capacity, Edwards plans to bring a live pharmacy to the location, create a three-chair dental suite and utilize at least one of the 11 new exam rooms for pediatric care.
“One of my first goals is to present to the community a place where both LGBTQ parents and their children can get their primary health care and see a number of LGBTQ families become patients of Howard Brown,” he said. “Another goal is to really position ourselves so that our patients tell others that Howard Brown and Triad is the health care provider of choice for LGBT people as opposed to their last resort.”
The Triad Practice will also include geriatric care so that services can be expanded to LGBT adults; mental health and behavioral health services, including sexual addiction; continued alternative insemination services to help create LGBT families and cosmetic surgery procedures for those who suffer from HIV/AIDS complications, or who want aesthetic changes.
Edwards envisions the new pharmacy to be similar to the one at the Sheridan Road site and as new revenue stream for Triad.
“With our insured patients, we get the revenue from their patient visit but we also get the revenue from their pharmaceutical prescription, and so when a patient gets their prescription refilled at our pharmacy a percentage of the copay will get sent back to us from the insurance company,” he said. “Honestly our pharmacy program is another thing that patients can do to support our mission without really having to dig into their pockets.”
However, HBHC has yet to decide on a pharmaceutical partner provider like Walgreens or CVS or create it independently because they are still reaching out to several companies to determine who is the most competitive, according to Edwards.
Overall, the increased amount of patients and the pharmacy will create new profits for Triad and Howard Brown. At the same time, the space — while larger — will save the institution about $2 million over the next 10 years in rent because of lower costs per square foot and tax exemptions for the clinic.
HBHC pays more than $30 per square foot for the Triad Practice and the new location will cost less than $30 per square foot. They are also getting six months free rent.
The move will present no large costs to offset, according to Edwards.
“Our brokers who helped negotiate the deal did the work for us pro-bono, so we didn’t have to invest any money into actually going into developing the space and finding the space,” he said. “The landlord is actually making a charitable donation to Howard Brown as well to help cover the costs of kind of getting it started. And the great thing is that Northwestern was such a great tenant and such a great health practice that when they walk out of that space, we’ll be able to walk right in and assume operations.”
The organization also extended their current lease through February 2013 and will be able to operate both sites simultaneously if necessary through the transition.
“I have been looking for a new site for Triad since I got here,” Edwards said. “We came to the conclusion — the board and I — early on that some of our real estate costs were not as efficient and effective as they could have been. And so we’ve been working on this for at least six months.”