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Legacy Community Health Services — Timeline

An Amazing 30-Year Evolution: A new era begins for Legacy Community Health Services

1960s     – Gay activist Ray Hill produces a STD-education flyer and leaves it in gay bars. He gets tested regularly and encourages others to do the same.

1964, Azidothymidine (AZT), also called zidoduvine, is synthesized by Jerome Horwitz of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine under a National Instutues of Health (NIH) grant. It is shelved for more than 20 years when it proves insufficiently effective against tumors in mice. Later, scientists learn that only 10%-20% of cancers are caused by viruses.

1976     – “Dan the VD Man,” a Houston Health Department employee, seeks Hill’s help. The two organize “STD Testing Night” at Dirty Sally’s and later testing in Health Department mobile units outside gay bars.

1977     – Dr. Didier Piot observes something medically sinister in a patient in Haiti.
•    June 16, the first public unity of Houston’s gay community is displayed when 6,000 LGBTs show up to rally against an appearance by Anita Bryant, who is making headlines with her religious-right, anti-gay sentiments.

1978     – “Mother Ruth” Ravas replaces “Dan the VD Man.”
•    The Houston Gay Political Caucus forms a Medical Committee, soon re-named Lesbian and Gay People in Medicine (LGPIM). The Houston Health Department is represented at its meetings.
•    Dr. Didier Piot, practicing in Toronto, treats Air Canada flight attendant Gaëtan Dugas, the man who later becomes known as “AIDS Patient Zero.”
•    June 25, Hill and other local activists hold Town Meeting I in the Astroarena to form committees to address problems in the gay community. A community-health resolution inspires meetings of physicians concerned about STDs among Houston’s gay population.
1980     – Mother Ruth is chosen as a 1980 Pride Prade Grand Marshal.
•    Michael MacAdory, a goodlooking, popular bartender, develops Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). MacAdory asks Hill and others to join in founding a KS Committee.
•    December 15, Dr. Richard O’Brien and Mother Ruth send out a mass-mail appeal to the gay community to raise funds for a proposed “Montrose Clinic.”

1981     – Thomas Audette becomes executive director of Montrose Clinic and serves until 1988.
•    May 5,  Mother Ruth and activist Danny Villa stage a fundraiser, the “Zap Clap Revue.” The show is staged at Babylon Disco (formerly Numbers).
•    June 5, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report cases of a rare lung infection, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), in five young, previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles. Reports began to pour in from throughout the country.
•    October 6, Montrose Clinic opens its doors in a small building at 104 Westheimer.

1982     – April 9, the Montrose Voice publishes a special supplement titled “Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” which focuses on KS. It reports that M.D. Anderson has 53 documented cases of men with suppressed immune systems and four cases of KS.
September, the CDC introduces the term AIDS, an acronym for “acquired immune deficiency syndrome.”

1983     – May, The Pasteur Institute in France announces the discovery of a virus that causes AIDS; they call it LAV (lymphadenopathy associated virus).
May 13, The Montrose Voice quotes Montrose Clinic’s clinical director as saying, “We feel so inadequate because there is really so little we can do for AIDS victims.”

1984     – Montrose Clinic moves to 803 Hawthorne, doubling its space.
– The Clinic begins offering the Program for AIDS Counseling & Evaluation (PACE), which includes patient history, physical, testing, and referral.
•    April 23,  Margaret Heckler, Secretary of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services announces that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has found the cause for AIDS, the retrovirus HTLV-III; she says development of a diagnostic blood test is underway.
•    June, The Pasteur Institute and NCI hold a joint press conference to announce that Pasteur’s LAV and NCI’s HTLV-III are one and the same and the likely cause of AIDS.

1985     – New York-based AIDS Medical Foundation merges with Los Angeles-based National AIDS Research Foundation as the American Foundation for AIDS Research and adopts the name “amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.”
– The ELISA blood test becomes available to see if a person’s body is producing antibodies to combat HIV. Blood centers use the test to ensure the safety of donated blood. Local LGBT organizations warn that gay men should not donate blood and should not participate in testing that will leave a paper trail. Montrose Clinic develops a testing system that protects identity.
– October 2, movie super star Rock Hudson dies of AIDS; Montrose Clinic is inundated with testing requests, and begins processing 600 to 700 tests a month.

1986     – Houston’s “first lady of philanthropy” Carolyn Farb organizes “An Evening of Hope” to benefit the Bering Foundation and raises $100,000.

1987     – Scientists figure out how the HIV virus destroys immune systems.
•    Designers Michael Dale, Betsie Weatherford, and Lynn Billings Etheridge start a local chapter of the Design Industries Foundation for Fighting AIDS (DIFFA). From 1987 to 1996, DIFFA raises over $2.7 million.
•    The Institute for Immunological Disorders opens a not-for-profit AIDS hospital on I-45 North. It is staffed by some of the best AIDS physicians in town. But so many patients are indigent that the hospital is unable to meet financial demands and is closed down.
•    The Institute contributes $25,000 to DIFFA—funds that have been set aside to help people pay their insurance premiums when they can no longer work—and asked them to take on this function. With these funds and their own resources DIFFA forms the Assistance Fund.
– March 20, AZT is approved for marketing by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

1988     –  Montrose Clinic moves into new quarters at 1200 Richmond Avenue, again doubling its space.
–  Montrose Clinic’s Executive Director Thomas Audette dies, and Ralph Lasher becomes the  new executive director.
•    Psychotherapists and business partners Miles Glasby and Bill Scott launch Body Positive Wellness Center to educate and support people about what life with AIDS is. A buddy system matches up volunteers who are HIV+ with persons who have just been diagnosed.

1989     – Montrose Clinic forms the Houston Clinical Research network to allow more clinic patients access to experimental drugs, and the Clinic becomes one of amfAR’s 12 test sites.
•    Aerosolized pentamidine is introduced as a prophylactic against PCP. The Diana Foundation funds pentamidine treatment stations; Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale sees a news report about the stations and donates recliners to replace plain chairs.
•    The Assistance Fund becomes an independent service provider under the leadership of designers Susan Strong and Jim McNabb.

1991     – Derek Humphrey’s Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying becomes a continuing bestseller in Montrose-area bookstores.

1992     – Montrose Clinic begins a $2 million dollar capital campaign for needed expansion.

1994     – Montrose Clinic purchases the former Hollywood Motel at 215 Westheimer and remodels it to suit its needs.
– The Assistance Fund buys 1515 Jackson Blvd. Volunteers contractors help with the transformation into and office.

1995    –  The death toll from AIDS spikes.
– June 25, the Assistance Fund opens their new offices at 1515 Jackson Blvd., with Ken Malone at the helm.

1996     – Retroviral combinations are introduced and AIDS becomes a chronic, treatable illness.
–  Drugs are now available to interrupt the HIV reproduction cycle at two entirely different points. The death rate from AIDS declines.
•    Viral load tests are introduced. This test shows exactly how fast the virus is destroying CD4 cells and is a much better indicator of drug effectiveness than the standard test that gives the CD4 cell count.
•    Montrose Clinic introduces women’s health services, including pelvic exams, PAP smears, breast exams, and referrals for mammograms.

1997     – Nelson Vergel joins the board of Body Positive Wellness Center and convinces them to open a wellness center in the 3400 Montrose building.

2000     – Body Positive and Montrose Clinic merge; Body Positive moves to 3311 Richmond. The center now has a complete workout room with personal trainers and a nutritionist who helps people develop a healthy eating regimen.

2005     – As retroviral combination treatments begin to dramatically slow the AIDS virus, Assistance Fund clients are living longer. It becomes increasingly difficult to attract money for AIDS causes. The Fund merges with Montrose Clinic. The combined organization takes on the name “Legacy Community Health Services.”
•    In the fall, Montrose Clinic helps over 600 Katrina evacuees with medical care and life-saving medications that were lost in the hurricane’s devastation. About one-third of the evacuees are HIV+.

2006     – Legacy partners with Walgreen’s to open a branch in their 215 Westheimer location. Legacy owns the medications and contracts with Walgreen’s to dispense them.
•    Legacy opens the Lyons Avenue Health Center, a satellite clinic in Houston’s Fifth Ward at 5602 Lyons Avenue.

2007     – Legacy is granted full status as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), offering primary care services to Houston’s uninsured and underinsured.

2009     – Legacy announces a $15 million capital campaign for a new building to consolidate three locations into one state-of-the-art facility in Montrose.

2010     – Legacy breaks ground for their new facility at 1415 California.

2011     – Summer, Legacy’s building at 1415 California is completed.
•    September,  the locations at 215 Westheimer, 3311 Richmond, and 1515 Jackson move into the new building at 1415 California.
– October 16, Legacy Community Health Services dedicates its new building at 1415 California.

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Brandon Wolf

Brandon Wolf is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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