New HIV/AIDS clinic fills void in Fort Worth

Posted on 17 Aug 2012 at 8:45am

California-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation opens Magic Johnson Healthcare Center at AIDS Outreach Center, also plans facility in N. Dallas

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GRAND OPENING  | AIDS Healthcare Foundation Regional Director Adam Ouderkirk, left, and Fort Worth City Councilman Frank Moss address the crowd at the opening of AHF’s new Magic Johnson clinic at the AIDS Outreach Center in Fort Worth on Monday, Aug. 13. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

FORT WORTH — AIDS Healthcare Foundation began client intakes on Tuesday, Aug. 14,­ and expected to begin seeing patients Friday at the new Magic Johnson Healthcare Center at AIDS Outreach Center.

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit operates clinics in four states and Washington, D.C. and in 26 countries around the world. They are close to signing a lease at Medical City in North Dallas to fill a void in HIV care in that part of the city.

AHF Regional Director Adam Ouderkirk said the goal is to provide AIDS care where services are lacking, not to compete with existing agencies.

AHF already serves 176,000 individuals in 26 countries. In the U.S., AHF operates 20 clinics.

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Allan Gould

AOC Executive Director Allan Gould said his agency has been working with AHF on a number of events over the past five years and the two entities have developed a good working relationship.

“They approached us about opening a medical clinic,” he said. “We’ve been hoping to add that service since our inception.”

Gould said after a series of meetings the boards of the two organizations found they had similar philosophies and voted on the collaboration.

“We’re working hand-in-hand,” he said. “We offer services they don’t offer, and they fulfill a need we’ve had for some time.”

Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks is a past president of AOC. He called the partnership “the right move at the right time to do the right thing.”

Fort Worth City Councilman Frank Moss welcomed the clinic, saying it would help more people with HIV get proper care and medication.

Gould said the clinic fills a void for some of the clients of AIDS Services of Rural Texas, which closed last summer. That agency operated two clinics — one in Weatherford and one in Abilene. He said AOC has picked up about half of the clients and the clinic will benefit those who are uncomfortable discussing HIV in rural settings with doctors who have little experience with the virus.

The Magic Johnson Healthcare Center will provide only primary care, so many clients will still rely on John Peter Smith, Tarrant County’s public hospital. He said the clinic will not replace the hospital or the county health department, which also provides health services, but add needed services.

“We hope to relieve an overburdened and stressed out system,” Gould said.

In conjunction with the opening of the clinic, AHF’s big-rig Condom Nation 18-wheeler completed a 40-city, 25-state tour in Fort Worth on Monday. The specially equipped truck does condom giveaways and rapid HIV testing.

In 32 days, Condom Nation tested 4,400 people, gave away 10 million condoms and provided safer-sex information in conjunction with local partners. The previous weekend, AHF partnered with AIDS Arms for HIV testing in Oak Cliff.

Ouderkirk said his organization adds services to an area and didn’t enter the DFW market to compete. He said that some cities are very territorial and have let him know that AHF is not welcome.

Texas has been very welcoming and collaborative, he said.

He said that if the lease is signed on the space at Medical City, a Magic Johnson Healthcare Center would open in Building B as early as October.

According to Bret Camp, Resource Center Dallas health services director, one of the zip codes with the highest HIV infection rates is just north of there. No AIDS service organizations targets that area of the city directly.

In addition, he has been talking to groups in Austin and San Antonio, where he said there is also a growing need.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 17, 2012.

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