Austin-based nonprofit Texas Health Action
opened Kind Clinic San Antonio in March to provide sexual health and gender-affirming services to the LGBTQ+ community.
Because the launch occurred at the same time as the coronavirus crisis intensified, Kind Clinic SA
instituted specialty safety protocols. Its established Bexar County patients also were already utilizing the organization's remote telehealth option to receive services from its two Austin clinics.
"A lot of our gender-care patients travel anywhere from two to six hours for care, so TeleKind was a way to access their care without having to drive to Austin every time," Andres Cordero, lead patient advocate for Kind Clinic SA told the Current
. "In Austin, we offer gender care for trans individuals, there aren't many places that offer gender care support, so several of our patients came from the San Antonio, Houston and West Texas."
Akin to Austin, the new San Antonio clinic provides comprehensive sexual health services, including access to HIV prevention medication for pre and post exposure, sexual-transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment, gender-affirming services and care for those living with HIV.
Patients are predominately being seen through TeleKind, with clinical visits conducted through a smartphone or computer cameras, while still offering in-person medical services like lab work and follow-up exams. The facility is using safety protocols such as physical distancing and health screens prior to entry.
Along with offering remote care, the sexual wellness clinic uses a financially assisted health model to offer free services and reduced cost medications. That's been helpful during the economic calamity
brought on by the health crisis.
"Most of our patients don't pay anything," Cordero said. "We have a program called the Kind Patient Assistance Program that is unique to our clinic and based upon someones financial situation. We can provide them with some support around their medications, making their sexual health care free or at very low cost."
Cordero noted that many patients receiving HIV care have limited access to transportation, so having low-cost and remote services enables regular access to patients who might otherwise be left without treatment.
For some of the populations served through the Kind Clinic, it's not uncommon for patients to be victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. San Antonio has seen a recent rise in domestic violence cases
as stay-at-home orders leave some in unsafe environments. Kind Clinic SA is equipped to offer medications if patients were exposed to HIV, as well as referrals to expanded services.
"Our gender care and trans patients encounter issues like sexual abuse, sometimes in a domestic situation" Cordero said. "We have access to the San Antonio Rape Crisis Center as well as counseling services. We will direct them to the resources they need at no cost to the patient."
Kind Clinic SA will also be adding drop-in STI testing beginning Monday, April 27 on a first-come, first-served basis. New and existing patients can register at the clinic, return to their vehicles and receive text messages for drop-in times. All patients must wear a mask and will be screened before entering.
"People are facing many challenges during this time, and our advocate team is here to help new and current patients, either in English or Spanish, navigate potential barriers to care," Yvonne Venegas, Kind's San Antonio clinic administrator, said in a statement.
The clinic is located at 730 Isom Road. To make an appointment through TeleKind, receive information about hours of operation, or for safety protocol updates, visit the Kind Clinic website
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