MELROSE — An LGBT health center is slated to arrive in the South Bronx by early next year.
Callen-Lorde, an organization that provides medical care focused on the needs of the LGBT community, plans to set up shop on the first floor of 3144 3rd Ave., an old furniture store that the non-profit BOOM!Health is renovating and transforming into a wellness center for the area.
BOOM! decided to select Callen-Lorde as the site's primary healthcare provider because of how badly The Bronx needs more services for its LGBT population, according to John Hellman, director of advocacy and communication at the nonprofit.
"The Bronx LGBT community is very underserved," he said, "and we keep hearing that from the community."
Callen-Lorde will offer care at its new location to anyone who seeks out its services and specialize in women's health, HIV care, adolescent care and transgender care, which can range from regular checkups to liver function tests for people using hormones, according to the group's Executive Director Wendy Stark.
"We will also be providing mental health services there, the extent of which are to be determined based on community need," she said.
The building has five floors, all of which are being renovated to house BOOM!Health's advocacy department, legal services department and HIV/AIDS prevention program, along with some of its administrative offices.
The third floor of the building will contain a youth drop-in center, which will be a safe space for kids between ages 13 and 24 to come take classes, use computers or just hang out, Hellman said.
The second and third floors of the building should be ready within a few weeks; the fourth and fifth floors should be ready sometime in the fall; and the first floor should be ready early in 2016, according to Hellman.
In addition to Callen-Lorde's health center, the building's ground floor will also house a cafe that serves coffee and health food. BOOM!Health plans on training the youths that the group works with to be baristas at the cafe to help get them job experience.
Callen-Lorde currently has two sites in Chelsea, and Stark estimated that about 15 percent of their patients come from The Bronx.
She did not single out The Bronx for having a lack of LGBT health services but rather described this as a problem all across New York and the United States.
"I feel like all of NYC and the nation are in need of more LGBT-competent services," she said.