This Pride month, Legacy looks back at its history, community service, and a legacy of caring for the LGBTQ+ community
By Barrett White
This year marks 40 years of Legacy Community Health, formerly known as the Montrose Clinic. In those 40 years, Legacy and the surrounding communities have grown immensely. What began as a small, volunteer-run clinic focused on battling sexually transmitted diseases and discrimination in accessing health care then expanded with the onset of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
It was one of Houston’s very few dedicated first responders to the HIV/AIDS crisis, with volunteers stepping forward to embrace patients when it was most needed in the community.
Before long, the organization became the local pioneer in HIV/AIDS research, education, clinical trials and treatment. It became the first community-based HIV antibody testing site in the state, and only the second nationally.
As the organization evolved, and the community needs grew, then-executive director Katy Caldwell led the transformation from a clinic focused only on HIV/AIDS services to become Legacy Community Health, a system of clinics that provide whole health services for the entire community. Part of this transformation included becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center, or FQHC. The result was an answer to the needs for expanded health services to LGBTQ community.
Legacy’s focus on health equity for LGBTQ+ community is part of the historical context that drives the struggle for health equity for all Texans. This month – and every month – Legacy staff honors LGBTQ+ and HIV+ patients. Whether it’s the purposeful way our staff helps a patient feel seen and heard, , modifying our policies and processes to be more inclusive, uplifting them when entering our rainbow-decorated offices, or taking a public stand to promote “love is love,” Legacy celebrates Pride all year long.
This mission – to drive healthy change in the community without judgment or exception and regardless of the ability to pay – continues to shape Legacy’s programs and services. Quite a few Legacy providers and volunteers from the days of the Montrose Clinic are still here, meeting the needs of the community and helping patients through their journey to a happy, healthy life.
“We’ll be here, as we have been for over 40 years, to help welcome you without judgement, to empower you, and provide the best health care we can,” says Katy Caldwell, CEO, Legacy Community Health.