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Chase Brexton relocates, expands services

Baltimore health facility grows as ‘Obamacare’ debuts

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Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Chase Brexton Health, Baltimore, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Chase Brexton Health, Baltimore, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake spoke and helped cut the ribbon at Chase Brexton’s opening last week. (Photo by Daniel McGarrity Photography)

On a comfortable, sunny morning last week, Baltimore City leaders, Chase Brexton officials and supporters as well as a marching band were on hand to officially open Chase Brexton Health Care’s new primary care facility in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Chase Brexton Health Care CEO Richard Larison were among those who offered remarks and cut the ribbon for the grand opening.

The new facility in the former Monumental Life building at 1111 N. Charles St. will allow Chase Brexton, a nonprofit provider, to expand its services. The Mount Vernon Center sees about 9,000 patients annually; the new Center will allow for more than doubling that number to about 25,000 based on projections. It features a patient-centered “pod” design and space for new obstetrics/gynecology services.

“Beginning in just a few months, hundreds of thousands of uninsured Marylanders will have access to new health insurance options through the Affordable Care Act,” Larison said. “We look forward to meeting increasing demand and educating patients with the same compassionate care we’ve provided for 35 years.”

As part of this expansion and evolution of its services, the organization is changing its name to Chase Brexton Health Care to more accurately reflect the comprehensive primary care services that it provides.

Founded in 1978 as a volunteer-run health clinic for Baltimore’s LGBT community, Chase Brexton has a history of providing care to underserved members of the community and helping patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and HIV. Since then, it has expanded to a total of six locations in the region, annually serving nearly 25,000 patients from all walks of life.

Along with the newly relocated main Baltimore location, Chase Brexton has primary care offices in Randallstown, Columbia and Easton, as well as with Sheppard Pratt’s Way Station facility in Columbia. It is also provider of the student health services at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). The new facility replaces its former location a few blocks away on the corner of Cathedral and Eager Streets.

“Chase Brexton is a model of healthcare equity in Baltimore and around the region,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “For decades, it has played a critical role in our area by providing high-quality care to anyone who needs it, no matter their ability to pay. With this new facility in the heart of Mount Vernon, Chase Brexton is poised to serve many more people, including many who will be newly insured.”

Building on its comprehensive care menu that includes dental, pharmacy, mental health and substance abuse services, Chase Brexton has recently added obstetrics and gynecology care.

With Chase Brexton’s “pod” design, patients are literally at the center of their own care. Treatment rooms line the perimeter of each pod and medical staff move among the rooms to visit patients, who are able to remain in a single room for their entire visit.

Chase Brexton’s leaders two years ago purchased the Monumental Life building and began renovations to transform the 192,000- square-foot property into its new headquarters.

“The primary goal of the renovation was to respect and preserve historically significant features of the ornate Monumental Life complex while adapting and reconfiguring the property to provide much needed health services for the downtown Baltimore community,” said Kim Price, president of Chase Brexton’s board of directors.

The expansion of services does not change its mission with respect to the LGBT community, according to Dr. Julie Eastin of the Behavioral Health department.

The facility is outpatient only, and appointments are needed. To schedule an appointment, call 410-837-2050. For more information, visit ChaseBrexton.org.

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D.C. ends funding for Casa Ruby LGBTQ homeless shelter

Group scrambles to raise private donations to prevent Oct. 1 shutdown

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Ruby Corado, gay news, Washington Blade
Ruby Corado is hoping to raise private donations to keep the shelter open. (Blade file photo)

The D.C. Department of Human Services on Sept. 24 informed the LGBTQ community services center Casa Ruby that it will not renew its annual $850,000 grant that, among other things, funds Casa Ruby’s emergency “low-barrier” shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth and adults.

Casa Ruby founder and CEO Ruby Corado said DHS informed her of its decision to discontinue the grant less than a week before the end of the current fiscal year when the funding is set to expire, which could result in the shutdown of the shelter on Oct. 1. 

Corado has since launched a GoFundMe appeal seeking help from the community so that the 50-bed shelter and 24-hour drop-in space located at the Casa Ruby headquarters at 7530 Georgia Ave., N.W. might continue to serve LGBTQ people in need of emergency housing. 

“After 9 years of serving thousands of homeless LGBTQ youth & adults, we are forced to close the doors to our most important program @Casa Ruby (Our Low Barrier Housing) on October 1st, 2021,” Corado states in her GoFundMe appeal. 

“This is also a terrible loss of 30 jobs that will impact the lives of Trans & Gender Non-Binary & other employees who now may face homelessness themselves – A HORRIBLE TRAGEDY,” the GoFundMe appeal states. 

Corado told the Washington Blade on Monday that she and the Casa Ruby staff were hopeful but uncertain whether emergency contributions from members of the community might be able to prevent a complete shutdown of the shelter. 

“We appreciate the work that Casa Ruby has done to serve homeless youth in the District of Columbia,” said DHS Interim Deputy Administrator Sheila Strain Clark in a Sept. 24 letter informing Corado of the decision to discontinue the funding. 

“Under Article VI. A. of Grant Agreement #DHS-FSA-HYRA-006-18 LGBTQ Homeless Youth Low-Barrier Beds (Grant Agreement), DHS at its discretion, and subject to the availability of funding, may extend the Grant Agreement for additional terms,” Strain Clark says in her letter. “At this time, DHS has decided not to extend the Grant Agreement for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022,” she wrote.

Strain Clark didn’t provide a specific reason for the DHS decision to discontinue the funds in her letter to Corado. In response to a request from the Blade for the reason why the grant was terminated, a DHS spokesperson sent the Blade a statement from DHS Director Laura Zeilinger commenting on the DHS decision, but that also did not provide a specific reason for the funding cutoff. 

“DHS is committed to the safety and well-being of youth, including LGBTQ+ youth, who we know disproportionately experience homelessness,” Zeilinger says in the statement. “We are not decreasing funding for LGBTQ+ youth services which will continue to be offered through the Continuum of Care,” the statement says.

“Covenant House Washington and True Colors will now provide LGBTQ+ specific services for youth in the Deanwood community of Ward 7. These are new services in this community,” the statement continues.

“Grant renewal decisions are based on ensuring accountability and continuity of quality services and the safety of our residents,” the statement says. “We value the community organizations who deliver these services and honor the contribution of Casa Ruby.”

The decision by DHS to discontinue the Casa Ruby homeless shelter grant came just under six months after Casa Ruby filed an administrative complaint against DHS, charging the D.C. government agency with ignoring and failing to stop one of its high-level officials from allegedly engaging in anti-transgender discrimination and retaliation against Casa Ruby.

The six-page complaint, which was prepared by Casa Ruby’s attorneys and signed by Corado, says the DHS official in question, whose name is redacted from the publicly released copy of the complaint, had acted in an abusive and discriminatory way toward Corado and other Casa Ruby employees. It says the targeted employees were overseeing three DHS grants awarded to Casa Ruby that funded shelters providing emergency housing for homeless LGBTQ people.

DHS has declined to comment on the complaint, saying it was investigating its allegation.

Corado told the Blade at the time Casa Ruby announced it had filed the complaint that the DHS official named in the complaint appeared to be retaliating against Casa Ruby, among other reasons, for a decision by Corado to decline a request by DHS that Casa Ruby move its main homeless shelter to a site on Division Avenue in Northeast D.C. Corado said she believed the location would be unsafe for Casa Ruby’s transgender clients. 

Corado points out that the location to which the DHS official wanted the Casa Ruby shelter to move was near the site on Division Avenue where transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds, 22, was shot to death during a July 4, 2006, armed robbery in which D.C. police said a group of male suspects were targeting transgender women. 

Corado said that as of Tuesday, members of the community and supporters had contributed about $75,000 through the GoFundMe appeal, raising hope that an immediate shutdown of the shelter could be averted.

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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