Dimensions Clinic expands to Saturdays
by Heather Cassell
Dimensions Clinic, the only healthcare provider solely for queer youth, is now opened for service on Saturdays.
The clinic expanded its Thursday night clinics to Saturdays late last year, after its new Youth Action Board, made up of eight young adults under and over the age of 18, presented a report assessing queer youth needs.
The YAB members' report, along with the San Francisco LGBT Community Center's Youth Empowerment Team's report about homeless queer youth needs, which was released in early 2006, gave a holistic view of queer youth's most urgent needs: housing and access to healthcare.
Dimensions, along with the five other agencies included in the "Community Partnership for LGBTQQ Youth" proposal, successfully lobbied for city funding with Supervisor Bevan Dufty's support. The initial $750,000, included in the city's budget after it was approved by the Board of Supervisors' budget committee, comes out of the city's general fund for the 2006-2007 fiscal year. The money will be shared among all six agencies to assist with expand services to the city's queer youth.
"Bevan has been our biggest cheerleader," said Vittorio D'Angeli, collaborative coordinator of Dimensions Clinic. "There are politicians who politic and there are politicians who do and he's a doer."
Dimensions, which operates on an annual budget of $400,000, provides physical and mental healthcare services to an estimated 1,000 clients a year, approximately 250 of those are new patients. While Dimensions is open weekly on Thursday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. and now Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m., its services extend operation to six days a week with the assistance of its partnerships. The Castro/Mission Health Center, Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, Larkin Street Youth Services, and New Leaf: Services for Our Community all provide services to queer youth who are patients at Dimensions six days a week.
"Dimensions is an incredible resource to queer youth. I'm so proud of all of the work done by the Castro/Mission Heath Center [which houses Dimensions Clinic]," said Dufty, who has worked with the clinic over the years. "I continue to see it as a lifeline for the queer youth who come to the city and Dimensions has evolved to meet the needs of transgender youth and young adults."
Dufty expects that Dimensions, as well as other LGBT health clinics, will continue to evolve. Within the beginning of the 2006-2007 fiscal year that began last July, Dimensions has received new funding to allow the clinic to grow. The California Endowment, the state's largest healthcare foundation, awarded Dimensions a two-year, $200,000 grant
For the first time in the clinic's eight-year history it has the financial stability to actively work on a broader evaluation of its services and client needs to map out a strategic plan. To assist with its growth, Dimensions has entered into a $7,500 contract with Michelle Magee, senior vice president of Harder and Company Community Research, a research and analysis consulting firm specializing in nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and philanthropic entities.
Getting the word out
With very little outreach since Dimensions began providing Saturday services, it is scheduling appointments at the rate of about half of what staff expect to see walk through the doors. The clinic is making a big push to get the word out to the community.
"We are still trying to get into the 20th century with our communication," D'Angeli laughed. "We still don't have a Web site."
The clinic is increasing its outreach efforts. In November 2006, Esteban Rodriguez, 26, a bi man, joined Dimensions as the new outreach coordinator. The San Francisco Department of Public Health is providing the estimated $50,000 annual salary for the position.
In the last two months, Rodriguez has begun to bring the clinic into the 21st century. He immediately established a Web presence at http://www.Myspace.com/dimensions_clinic, and has networked with youth and healthcare agencies and schools around the city.
Within the next month or so D'Angeli and Rodriguez expect to have a Web site for Dimensions that will be linked with the clinic's collaborative partners.
"We need to catch up, first of all," said D'Angeli about utilizing newer communication tools, such as text messaging. "Then we really need to keep up with the evolutionary changes in this whole new age of communication."
D'Angeli continued, "I'm feeling confident that especially by the end of this fiscal year this Saturday session with our new outreach campaign is going to be very well known."