More than 80 nurses, providers, and supporters came together Thursday evening to rally against the proposed relocation and reduction of services at Lyon-Martin Health Services and Women’s Community Clinic.
These clinics, currently located at 1735 Mission Street near the Central Freeway, serve cis women and trans and gender nonconforming patients by providing services such as primary medical care and mental health treatment.
On March 10, clinic staff were informed by HealthRIGHT 360 Chief Healthcare Officer Ana Valdés that the parent company would be “moving the services” of Lyon-Martin and the Women’s Community Clinic from the 1735 Mission St. location to HealthRIGHT 360’s main headquarters, two blocks away at 1563 Mission St., near South Van Ness.
Demonstrators at Thursday’s SEIU Local 1021-organized rally argued that this consolidation of money-losing clinics would result in a drastic reduction of services for the clinics’ vulnerable treatment populations.
After receiving the “clinic transition modeling” plan from HealthRIGHT 360, clinic workers are concerned that its caseload will be reduced from serving more than 3,000 patients to between 300 to 900 patients. That is a 70 to 90 percent drop in clientele served.
“Trans people are often the most marginalized in every way,” said Jennifer Esteen, a psychiatric nurse and vice president of organizing at SEIU Local 1021.
Esteen said that not all HealthRIGHT 360 staff are trained to properly interact with gender nonconforming clients and meet their specialized medical needs.
Lyon-Martin “is a bastion of care,” Esteen said. “They have staff who won’t misgender people and they provide care that is not available in other places.” Even private hospitals “don’t have the capacity to offer the same level of care,” she said.
The clinics’ backers are turning to the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Health, and the Board of Supervisors.
“We are in a public health crisis and a public health crisis is no time to be closing care clinics like Lyon-Martin,” said District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman at the rally.
After looking at financial possibilities with HealthRIGHT 360, clinic backers are asking the city to subsidize one-time supplementary funding of $1.4 million for two years to help continue providing services.
“It would be enough to give them some breathing room,” Esteen said.
“The queer and trans community are no strangers to pandemic,” said JM Jaffe, former trans health manager at Lyon-Martin. “Whether we’re talking about the AIDS crisis, the opioid epidemic, suicide, targeted violence, wars, or general access to healthcare, trans people, especially trans women of color, have been in it. We are no strangers to feeling our own mentality.”
Jaffe said that Lyon-Martin offers services that no other providers can give to the trans community. “We are the only clinic that will never send you to collections when you get a bill,” they said.