NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A specialty health care clinic to provide primary care for people in the LGBT community has opened in Norfolk.
"This creates more access to comprehensive health and wellness and then HIV specialty care," said Stacie Walls-Beegle, CEO of the LGBT Life Center.
It was opened thanks to a partnership between the LGBT Life Center and CAN Community Health .
"They do the medical and the clinical component, we do the linkage to care, retention and care, follow up to care, ensure that people continue to access services," Walls-Beegle said.
The LGBT Life Center has offered a testing center for years, but this partnership allows them to offer both a testing center and treatment options — thanks to the doctors and nurses of CAN.
Walls-Beegle said, "When we tested somebody and they tested positive, it would mean they needed to go to the Health Department, or they needed to go to an infectious disease doctor, or they needed to go someplace else. We wanted to create a system where you test positive, we can treat you right now."
The new clinic will specialize in testing and treatment of HIV, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted infections. It will also have an on-site pharmacy, which makes it unique for the Hampton Roads area.
"All those different things that happen in somebody’s life who is, who are LGBT, it’s not easy to talk about all of that if you’re not in an environment where its a safe space and its welcoming," said Walls-Beegle. "Stigma can be an awful barrier to being able to access services that are critical to your health and wellness and so we’re hoping to decrease some of those barriers."
Thursday is the first day the clinic is open. The center will treat both insured and uninsured people. The brick-and-mortar pharmacy will open in a few months. In the meantime, the LGBT Life Center will continue to operate its mail-order pharmacy.
The LGBT Life Center and CAN also plan to open a clinic in Hampton in the spring.