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    Co-Directors of Newly Allied Clinic in the Mission Share Hopes for Greater Access to Medical Care

    Women’s Community Clinic joined Lyon-Martin Health Services at the 1735 Mission Street clinic this May, and the two programs are now providing services from a shared location. This location is also home to Lee Woodward Counseling Center for Women, a comprehensive multi-cultural and multi-lingual adult cis gender and trans women’s outpatient program that provides integrated substance use and mental health treatment services.

    This allows a new team of co-directors at the newly allied clinic to provide comprehensive health services to women and transgender people through the HealthRIGHT 360 network, which changes lives for people in need by providing comprehensive, integrated, compassionate care that includes primary medical care, mental health services and substance use disorder treatment. Mental Health Director Silvia Sandoval, LCSW, Director of Clinic Operations Beth Midanik-Blum and Medical Director Tri Do, M.D., will be co-directors at the new allied clinic.

    To give you a better sense of what this new clinic location will provide for its clients, each of the co-directors has provided some insight into their background, expertise and hopes for greater access to care.

    Medical Director Tri Do, M.D.

    San Francisco Bay Times: Please tell us about your role since you joined the allied clinic this year.

    Dr. Do: As Medical Director of Lyon-Martin and Women’s Community Clinic, I am responsible for ensuring that patients receive the highest quality medical care possible, no matter what service they need from our clinics.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What was your experience prior to joining HealthRIGHT 360 this year? How have those experiences helped with your new role?

    Dr. Do: I first started with a degree in literature, but then changed courses and attended medical school, picking up a master’s in public health along the way. My training is internal medicine with a focus in LGBTQI health, including HIV care. I’ve held a myriad of medical and public health roles, including professor of medicine at UCSF, global medical director of a diagnostics company, and chief medical officer of another health center in San Francisco. I’ve also been on the board of several local, national and international organizations focused on health, but I’m most passionate about community health. Our system of healthcare is complex and ever-changing, and my background and experiences help me to understand how data, quality and sustainability intersect, so that we can provide the best patient care possible.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What are some advantages of the shared clinic location?

    Dr. Do: The services provided by Lyon-Martin Health Services, Women’s Community Clinic and Lee Woodward Counseling Center for Women are very complementary. Women’s Community Clinic does an enormous amount of community outreach and engagement and provides a greater depth of women’s health care. Lyon-Martin Health Services is well-known for its medical and mental health services to transgender people and to cisgender lesbians and bisexual women.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What services are offered at this clinic?

    Dr. Do: We offer primary medical and mental health care for patients in a safe and supportive environment. This means people can receive a range of preventive and therapeutic services for any number of medical and mental health conditions. For people starting gender-affirming hormones or needing surgery referrals, we can serve a range of needs and help with gender change paperwork. We offer sexual and reproductive health services, including short and long-acting contraception, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy options counseling and sexual well-being. We will soon have onsite psychiatry as well.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What do you believe are the greatest needs in the community that you serve? How does the clinic help to bridge gaps in care?

    Dr. Do: Despite all of the advances we’ve made in the rights of cisgender women and transgender people, we have a long way to go in terms of access to clinically competent and culturally inclusive care. Data shows that 75–80% of people from our communities report experiences of discrimination in healthcare settings. Many patients come to us from other counties and states because they can’t find providers who are able to serve their needs. Our allied clinics attract staff who are dedicated to, and are from, the communities that we serve. We provide specialized training so that they can be the change in the world we’d like to see, providing compassionate and quality care one patient at a time.

    Mental Health Director Silvia Sandoval, LCSW

    San Francisco Bay Times: What is your expertise? How do you apply these abilities to your work at the allied clinic?

    Silvia Sandoval: I joined Lyon-Martin Health Services in November 2016 as Mental Health Director and a clinician. I have been practicing for the last 18 years, mostly in the nonprofit sector providing direct, clinical services to members of disenfranchised communities and people of color. I have a master’s degree in social work and am a Ph.D. candidate at Smith College for Social Work. I worked for Yale-New Haven Hospital and served a 4-year tenure at the National Institute of Mental Health.

    As a person of color and an immigrant, I feel that I am able to connect on both a professional and personal level to provide empathy and validation to clients who experience racism and discrimination on a daily basis. I am relationally trained and discuss issues of race and privilege with clients and the effects on their mental health on a regular basis.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What is most beneficial about the new shared clinic location?

    Silvia Sandoval: We are a community health clinic, so being in the Mission is great as we are able to increase access for members of our community. With the alliance of Women’s Community Clinic, we are able to extend our mental health services to cis-women, which furthers HealthRIGHT 360’s mission of providing a wide range of comprehensive, integrated care to everyone. At the end of the day, we are here to serve our community in the best way possible, and this new location is making that a little bit easier.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What do the communities you serve need the most? Does the clinic help to fill those needs?

    Silvia Sandoval: In mental health care specifically, we see a myriad of cases and clinical issues. Our clients present us with very challenging clinical issues that are often exacerbated by limited access to services, homelessness and trauma, as well as psychosocial stressors such as racial and gender discrimination, inability to find trans-competent providers, and cultural and language sensitive services that are client-centered. At the allied clinic, we place a strong emphasis on providing this type of sensitive care and also consider a whole person approach, meaning that when a client comes in for a single issue, we consider all of the factors of their health and environment to find a treatment that will deliver the best outcome possible.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What else should the community know about the clinic?

    Silvia Sandoval: Our staff is truly dedicated to the mission of HealthRIGHT 360. We always go the extra mile whenever we can to ensure our clients receive quality care in a respectful and professional manner. All of us at the clinic, especially those in Mental Health, are constantly engaged in advocacy work for all of our clients. We have systems in place to ensure that our staff is trained not to misgender or dead-name any of our clients. Having integrated services—medical and mental health—can be very beneficial for our clients, and this is particularly true for clients who are transitioning. For some of our clients, navigating the process of a name change can be very difficult due to transphobia, and we are able to assist by providing them with a road map of what documents are needed to complete that process.

    Director of Clinic Operations Beth Midanik-Blu

    San Francisco Bay Times: How would you describe your current role with the allied clinic?

    Beth Midanik-Blum: As the Director of Clinic Operations for Women’s Community Clinic and Lyon-Martin Health Services, I have a hands-on role in ensuring overall efficient operations of the agency’s clinics, and I am responsible for the organizational day-to-day needs of clinic operations, and direct supervision of the administrative staff. Additionally, I manage quality assurance, program policies and practices, and see patients as much as possible to address their access to care, needs and issues.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What is your background? How does it help you in your current role?

    Beth Midanik-Blum: Prior to joining the Women’s Community Clinic and Lyon-Martin Health Services, I worked at Planned Parenthood for seven years. There, I learned the complexities of providing clinical care for stigmatized healthcare concerns. Working with patients who are seeking services that are often seen as marginalized by society is extremely rewarding and unique, and I feel honored daily to share space with patients who trust us to navigate their healthcare. I am continually inspired by social justice healthcare, with an emphasis on services to women and trans folks.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What is special about the new clinic location?

    Beth Midanik-Blum: It’s basically a one-stop shop! We now offer gynecological care, primary care, mental health care and reproductive care under the same roof. That means that for most patients, we can take care of all of their healthcare needs without them leaving the building. This clinic is patient centered and allows us to provide a medical home to our patients.

    History of Lyon-Martin Health Services and the Women’s Community Clinic

    Lyon-Martin Health Services is named for Del Martin (1921–2008) and Phyllis Lyon (1924–), two women whose lives and work intertwined with their enduring dedication to social justice. In 1979, local health care providers Sherron Mills, Patty Robertson and Alana Schilling established a clinic to give lesbians in the San Francisco Bay Area access to nonjudgmental, affordable health care and named it Lyon-Martin Health Services in their honor. In 2015, Lyon-Martin Health Services became the third primary care clinic operated by HealthRIGHT 360, continuing its specialized care for women and transgender individuals.

    Women’s Community Clinic traces its roots to the Women’s Need Center, a program of Haight Ashbury Free Clinics that closed in 1999 and reopened four months later with its new name. To make the reopening possible, a group of volunteers and clinicians came together, and with the support of community members, colleagues, family and friends, decided to re-open the clinic as an independent entity. Women’s Community Clinic joined the HealthRIGHT 360 family of programs in 2017.

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