The Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention at Children’s Memorial Hospital will move to the Uptown neighborhood this summer.
Dr. Rob Garofalo, the center’s director, said the move will allow the center to reach the at-risk populations it targets.
Children’s Memorial Hospital will move to Streeterville from its current Lincoln Park location on Fullerton in June as a part of an expansion funded by a $100 million gift from Ann Lurie.
Garofalo said young gay men, transgender youth and young people at risk of HIV infection will be better served at its new location at 4707 N. Broadway St. in Uptown than they would in River North.
“Moving downtown to Streeterville wasn’t going to be conducive to reaching the populations that we intended to,” Garofalo said. “The hospital aggressively looked for a new place for us to relocate our services. [4707 N. Broadway] is one block to two different Red Line stops. It’s very accessible. It shows a real commitment on the part of Children’s Memorial to think outside the box and be strategic to make these services work. We decided that we really want to remain community-based.”
Garofalo said the center, which will be located in the first-floor storefront of the building, has signed a three-year lease for the space. The center is mostly funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health but it also receives funding from Children’s Memorial, the city and private donors.
Much of its research is service oriented. Among the projects on which Garofalo and his staff are currently working is a study that tests the efficacy of text messages as an intervention for youth that had not been taking prescribed antiretroviral drugs. Another study in conjunction with Harvard in Boston will be recruiting 200 young transgender women to create and study a group-developed HIV prevention plan.
Garofalo said the center will also provide services like walk-in HIV testing and counseling but expansion of other services will depend on the new space and its ability to work with partner agencies. He said he hopes to fill a void of services if it would be helpful to the community.
This move puts the center under a mile from Howard Brown Health Center, the city’s oldest and largest LGBT healthcare provider. Garofalo said at this time there will be no collaboration with Howard Brown. Garofalo was HBHC’s chief research officer until February of 2011 when he was put on administrative leave. Garofalo then moved his staff and research and clinical activities to Children’s Memorial.
Asked if the proximity to Howard Brown will cause any overlap or competition among the service providers, Garofalo said some services will overlap but not in a way that causes competition.
“Howard Brown is an amazing place and they do amazing things,” Garofalo said. “Over time we just went our separate ways and they continue to do amazing work. There is such a need in the community for the type of work that we are both doing that I don’t see it in anyway as competition. I see it more as a variety of agencies in the city trying to provide a safety net for a group of at-risk young people that require services.”
The Children’s Memorial Center and Garofalo will provide medical care to Chicago House’s new transgender housing facility and will collaborate with TPAN on case management, counseling and housing referrals.
CEO Bill Farrand said the physical proximity will make it easier to refer young people to the Children’s Memorial Center.
“In terms of someone seeking medical care, it can take away one more obstacle,” Farrand said. “It’s much easier just to take a couple ‘L’ stops or jump on the Broadway bus.”
Farrand said he is not concerned with any overlap of services at TPAN.
“Their big impact will be actually providing medical care and working on issues around adherence to medication,” Farrand said. “Having as many arms out there doing testing is not a problem. It can’t be overdone.”
Howard Brown Health Center declined to comment.