History and Introduction

A new health column written by the staff of Allina Medical Clinic-The Doctors Uptown debuts.

In 1985, seeing a need for open care for gay men, two gay physicians, Dr. Hanan Rosenstein and Dr. John Weiser, created The Doctors. They left their private practices to join forces to serve the underserved needs of men like themselves. With the support of Mt. Sinai Hospital, which owned a clinic on Lake Street in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, The Doctors clinic began providing services to meet the unique needs of gay men.

At the same time, the problems of a “gay-related immune disease” (GRID), which later became known as human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), was becoming a social and health services problem, with many people affected by fear, as the number of gay men infected increased.

In 1995, when the private clinic was acquired by Allina Medical Clinics, Weiser left to practice in New York City, and Jeff Myers, a young gay physician interested in serving the needs of other GLBT patients, joined the practice.

The Doctors since has expanded services to include health care for women staffed by Dr. Caroline Toll and Dr. Dina Gad, and primary health care and infectious diseases consultation with Dr. Frank Rhame. Psychological services are provided with Dr. Richard Alberta, a licensed psychologist. The clinic’s relationship with Abbott Northwestern Hospital allows the clinic to refer to the hospital for imaging services and specialty care.

The Doctors has been distinguished with multiple awards for primary care services. It has been recognized for the highest level of patient satisfaction scores among Allina Medical Clinics. In 2006-2007, COLA awarded the lab an Excellence Award for the Achievements made in its lab services area. In 2007, the clinic received the Crystal Award for Care, Quality, and Service meeting goals in areas of Diabetic Care, Employee Engagement, and Patient Satisfaction.

Compared to the usual primary care clinic, patients seen at The Doctors continue to represent a larger number of males. In an average primary care clinic, more women than men tend to access primary care. In 2007, two-thirds of patients at The Doctors were male, and of those, one-third identified as gay.

Most patients at The Doctors reside in Hennepin County. However, the clinic sees patients from throughout Greater Minnesota who seek primary care from gay physicians. Clinic physicians care for a large percentage of the HIV-positive persons in the Greater Metropolitan area.

While The Doctors does more primary health care than HIV-specialty care, its laboratory has performed almost 1,000 rapid HIV tests in 2008. The clinic also has diagnosed and treated an increasing gay population for syphilis.

In 2007, The Doctors began to increase services to newly diagnosed HIV patients by providing a support group covering topics such as when to begin medicine; how to disclose positive status to friends and potential partners; legal issues involved in HIV; and how to understand HIV, test results, and care regimen.

In the past few years, The Doctors also has begun to provide HIV care to women who have concerns about having a family if one is HIV-positive or having support group interactions to improve self-esteem.

This article was published on September 26 – October 9, 2008. This column, which will discuss specific health care concerns, will answer questions brought up by you, the Lavender reader. Send your questions to [email protected], Clinic Manager, and we will respond in a monthly column of “The Doctor Is Out.”

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