June 16, 2015

Press Release # 024-15
Tuesday, June 16, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Sam Miller/Veronica Lewin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov

Council Member Corey Johnson: Erik Bottcher, (212) 564-7757; EBottcher@council.nyc.gov

Health Department and Council Member Corey Johnson Announce Plan to Continue Services During the Chelsea Clinic Renovation

Community partners are providing mobile testing outside of the Chelsea Clinic building

A Health Department mobile HIV testing unit will be stationed outside the building this fall

The Health Department and City Council Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson today announced a plan to continue offering low and no-cost HIV and STD services in Chelsea while the Health Department’s Chelsea Clinic is being renovated. The Health Department is renovating the clinic, located at 303 Ninth Ave., to improve the patient experience and clinical services at the site. The plan includes immediate changes, as well as changes that will be implemented this summer and fall.

The Health Department recognizes that HIV testing is the gateway to HIV prevention and treatment. Maintaining low and no-cost HIV and STD services in Chelsea during the clinic renovation is a vital step towards ending the epidemic.

Effective immediately, Health Department staff members are stationed at a mobile van in front of the Chelsea Clinic to assist potential patients and direct them to nearby services. Community-based organizations are also providing mobile HIV and STD services near the Chelsea site five days a week to reduce the gap in service. These community partner vans can accommodate approximately 10 to 15 sexual health visits per day.

Starting this summer, Rapid 4th Generation HIV and Syphilis testing – the most advanced rapid HIV and syphilis testing – will be available at the DOHMH mobile van unit. In addition to providing services directly outside of the Chelsea Clinic building, the Health Department and Council Member Johnson have worked with community partners to bolster services at surrounding community clinics. The Health Department will supplement funding to the Community Healthcare Network, Callen Lorde, and Mt. Sinai Downtown Comprehensive Health Center to pay for testing costs and add one nurse practitioner at each site. These changes will allow the three sites to collectively support approximately 60 to 70 more sexual health visits per day than what is currently offered. New signs will be posted to include information about these enhanced services, and Health Department staff will also help visitors find these sites.

Beginning this fall, there will be a full-service Health Department mobile clinic on site that can provide HIV and STD testing and accommodate approximately 10 to 15 more sexual health visits per day than what is currently available. In addition, rapid HIV testing and Sexual and Behavioral Sites will continue to offer services, maintaining the capacity for 15 visits per day. All of these options create a patient care capacity that approximates that of the Chelsea Clinic.

“For many years, the Chelsea Clinic has been in dire need of renovation and additional space for its growing patient needs,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “This plan will help make sure that New Yorkers who have come to rely on the Chelsea Clinic can get the services they need while we transform the Chelsea Clinic into a world-class facility. I thank Council Member Corey Johnson for helping us coordinate with community partners to ensure low and no-cost services are available in the neighborhood.”

“I want to thank the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for working with me, my colleagues in government and public health advocates to ensure that New York City is doing everything possible to combat HIV/AIDS, syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Health. “In addition to closing the service gap left when the Chelsea Clinic was closed for renovations, this plan will help us reach the goals put forward by the Ending the Epidemic and New York Knows initiatives. The Department of Health has stepped up to the plate and agreed to commit the resources needed, and I thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bassett for their commitment to public health.”

"These enhanced services will help fill the gap left in our sexual health service network caused by the closure of the Chelsea Health Clinic. I applaud the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Council Member Corey Johnson for their efforts to help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to high quality care and testing during the renovation,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler.

“I'm grateful to Commissioner Bassett and the Health Department for listening to our concerns and working to ensure that our community retains the testing services it needs during the renovation of the Chelsea Clinic, especially during the current syphilis outbreak,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents Chelsea. “I appreciate the work of my colleagues Council Member Johnson and Assembly Member Gottfried on this crucial issue, along with public health and AIDS/HIV advocates, including GMHC, TAG, ACT UP, Housing Works, the LGBT Center, Harlem United and APICHA.”

“Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bassett worked with the local elected officials, advocacy groups and the community to develop and fund accessible alternative service sites in the area for urgently needed testing, counseling, treatment and referral,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, who represents the Chelsea area and chairs the Assembly Health Committee. “The energy and responsiveness of the City and the community working together will protect the health of many New Yorkers.”

“The Chelsea Clinic’s renovation is an important investment in this community’s future health, but it’s also going to take a critical piece of Chelsea’s healthcare support system offline,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Unfortunately we’ve seen a citywide uptick in STD infections, and it’s been led by Chelsea, which has seen syphilis infections climb to more than six times the citywide rate. Especially against this backdrop, expanding other clinics’ capacity and providing mobile HIV and STD services in the neighborhood is a wise move and the right one. The result will be a Chelsea Clinic that better serves the needs of this community, without a gap in these essential services.”

“New York's HIV community activists and people living with HIV will be closely monitoring the DOHMH's proposed -- and long-overdue -- efforts to remediate the abrupt closure of the Chelsea STD Clinic,” said Treatment Action Group Executive Director Mark Harrington. “We view these as but initial steps in the City's ongoing efforts to put an end to the epidemics of HIV, syphilis, and other sexually-transmitted infections.”

“The enhanced services announced today by the Health Department represents a first step in mitigating the massive disruption in testing and treatment services caused by the closure of the Chelsea STD clinic,” said James Krellenstein of ACT UP New York. “We look forward to working closely with the Health Department to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of these measures.”

“It is absolutely imperative that the community have access to an STD clinic in Chelsea, even while the old facility is being upgraded,” said Charles King, President & CEO of Housing Works. “We are counting on leveraging these clinics to help is end the AIDS epidemic, and we applaud Council Member Johnson and DOHMH for restoring these vital services."

The Chelsea Clinic improvement project will include a gut renovation of the basement, first and second floors. The renovated clinic will:

  • Expand by 38 percent, increasing space for clients and clinical services
  • Provide a modern and efficiently designed space for clients and clinic services
  • Offer ADA-compliant building access via a lift
  • Include Active Design features to improve service delivery
  • House a new HVAC system to make the environment comfortable for clients

To make sure New Yorkers are informed about the temporary clinic closure, the Health Department has placed a large banner outside of the building, which includes directions to other Health Department clinics and service providers in the area. Handouts with this information are also available on site. In addition, the Health Department launched a texting service to help New Yorkers on the go find nearby sexual health services. New Yorkers can text “Chelsea” to 877877 for more information. The Health Department will also launch an online and print ad campaign to inform New Yorkers about the closure.

To ensure that this new plan is meeting the needs of the community, the Health Department will hold quarterly Community Advisory Board meetings with elected officials and community partners starting this summer. In addition, the Health Department will monitor services to make sure the services offered are meeting demand.