Dr. Chase Cates Brings Specialized Knowledge to AARC Practice

SA Current – Dr. Chase Cates Brings Specialized Knowledge to AARC Practice

Dr. Chase Cates is back where he belongs. The Dallas native’s education and training took him throughout the south, to the northeastern U.S. and finally to Los Angeles before coming to San Antonio to start this week as the Alamo Area Resource Center’s newest doctor.

“Even though I was in some of the least accepting areas (for LGBTQ people), it fueled my drive to get back there,” Cates says of coming back to Texas to serve the medical needs of the LGBTQ community.

Besides his extensive medical training and residency across the country, Cates holds the distinction as the first person to hold a fellowship in LGBTQ Healthcare and HIV at the University of California at Los Angeles. He completed his year in the pioneering program at UCLA in June and moved to San Antonio to settle in and seek out the best Tex-Mex queso and working with a personal trainer to counteract his favorite food and prepare for the rigors of his new mission in San Antonio.

“I grew up in Dallas as a closeted gay kid,” Cates says. “Being around southern culture and seeing the discrimination LGBTQ people faced kept me in the closet until medical school.” Undergraduate studies in San Angelo and graduate school at Texas A&M University, where he earned a master’s degree in public health, did little encourage him to come out.

That changed when he went to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine at Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pa., and then into two years of clinical rotations in Elmira, N.Y. Once he left Texas, he was able to come out and begin to discover who he was.

His return to the south, however, opened his eyes to the plight of LGBTQ patients. “I really felt powerless,” he says of his experiences during an away rotation in Dallas during medical school. At an urgent care clinic, he took a genital swab from a gay man and place it in a sealed container to go to the lab. An aide refused to take the container, proclaiming, “I don’t want to get AIDS!”

Cates also encountered attending physicians who refused to use appropriate personal pronouns for transgender people but could do little about it.

During that same Texas rotation, however, he also got to spend time training in an HIV clinic and got his first taste in the specialized field and found inspiration for his future career.

After earning his degree as a Doctor of Osteopathy in 2016, he returned to the south, this time in rural Arkansas, to do his residency in internal medicine.

“While in Arkansas, I witnessed the discrimination LGBTQ people face in healthcare firsthand, and initially laid low and kept my head down,” Cates says. “I had a student tell me, ‘I hope you find God,’ after finding out I was engaged to my partner. I had nurses make comments behind my back that would come back to me. I witnessed an attending (physician) speak down about a transwoman he was admitting to me.”

“I had enough of these abuses. There was only so much I could do as a resident, so I did what I could and educated my peers,” Cates says. That included lectures regarding LGBTQ health issues and what those patients faced.

His passion ignited, Cates was called to a fellowship at UCLA, the first of its kind to specialize in LGBTQ health issues and HIV.

“It was an empowering and incredibly rewarding experience. I now feel prepared to take what I learn to provide care for my community in the south, where I feel it is desperately needed. I feel proud and excited to be joining AARC in providing that care,” Cates says. “I am a very affirming and understanding physician and I’m here for all parts of the LGBQT community.”

One of the things he noticed while in Los Angeles was that it was harder for LGBTQ people to find housing and jobs, “but there was only so much I could do about it as a physician.” For that reason, he is looking forward to working with AARC, which offers numerous services to help the whole person, including housing assistance and mental health counseling. AARC Health Equity Clinic is also the only LGBTQ Specialty Clinic in San Antonio.

Cates says he looks forward to exploring San Antonio, especially for what the city can offer the interest he shares with his husband including exploring the craft beer scene and finding trivia nights when the COVID-19 pandemic releases its grip on a normal social life.

In the meanwhile, Cates is spending time with Mika, a Husky, and Pitbull/Lab mix Maggie, “who will lick you until she’s dehydrated,” Cates says.

The AARC Health Equity Clinic is accepting new patients and offers: Onsite Avita Pharmacy, HIV Specialty Care, LGBTQ Primary care, Trans Affirming care and PrEP/PEP. The Health Equity clinic is also hosting a virtual LGBT lecture with Dr. Cates. This free virtual event is scheduled to be held in late September.

COVID-19 Health ADVISORY

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has opened a COVID-19 hotline for residents to ask questions about the virus. The hotline is available in English and Spanish.

Currently there are no community cases in Bexar County or the City of San Antonio. The only confirmed cases are individuals who were brought to Lackland Air Force base under a federally mandated quarantine, and those individuals have been in isolation for treatment. Therefore, the risk of infection remains low.

Six practical COVID-19 prevention tips:

The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Stay home when you are sick.
  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What to know about COVID-19 testing:

  1. If you are feeling sick, call your primary care physician’s office before going in.
  2. If you do not have a primary care physician, visit any urgent care or walk-in clinic in the community, but remember to call ahead before your visit.
  3. Community physicians and other clinical providers have access to CDC protocols to determine whether or not patients qualify for COVID-19 testing.
  4. Local testing for COVID-19 is currently available only by sending samples to the CDC, in coordination with Metro Health and the CDC.
  5. People who do not have CDC-defined symptoms and exposure history will not be offered testing for COVID-19.
  6. If you need additional information call the Metro Health hotline at 210-207-5779. (Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)

City of San Antonio COVID-19 Vulnerable Populations- Downloadable Letter

Pride Community Clinic

Pride Community Clinic Opens Its Doors

A new local clinic fills the gap in healthcare access for underinsured and uninsured members of
the San Antonio LGBTQ community

Students in orange scrubs and white coats scurry between clinic rooms in preparation for the first patient of the night while faculty rehearse the clinic protocol with new trainees. The first patient arrives at the Alamo Area Resource Center’s Health Equity Clinic building, located downtown. The Health Equity Clinic serves insured LGBTQ patients by day, but one evening a month it houses the Pride Community Clinic. After students greet the patient and confirm their appointment, they are welcomed and given a brief run-down on the nature of the clinic.

“The Pride Community Clinic is a Student-Faculty Collaborative Practice meant to provide access to healthcare for self-identified members of the LGBTQ community”, states one student leader. The name, Student-Faculty Collaborative Practice (SFCP), is a reference to a program within the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics (CMHE) of UT Health San Antonio. Students in medicine and nursing, under the constant supervision of faculty, work together to provide care free of charge to underserved LGBTQ residents of Bexar County. For years, other SFCPs such as the San Antonio Refugee Clinic have been lauded for their success at directly serving at-risk communities such as refugees, people experiencing homelessness, and women recovering from addiction.

The idea to begin an LGBTQ-focused clinic began years ago when students at the Long School of Medicine within UTHSA saw a need in the local LGBTQ community. As in most cities, a substantial percentage of homeless youth in San Antonio identify themselves as LGBTQ. In addition, local access to hormone replacement therapy for uninsured or underinsured transgender individuals is very limited. To further quantify the need for an LGBTQ-oriented clinic, medical students conducted a community needs assessment in the form of a survey, discovering that most participants were not satisfied with their healthcare coverage and many were not adequately tested for STIs. Further, most LGBTQ people did not share their sexual histories with their PCP and the vast majority stated that they would be more likely to go to an openly LGBTQ- friendly healthcare provider.

Around the same time, the Alamo Area Resource Center (AARC), an organization devoted to providing resources for LGBTQ individuals and individuals at-risk for HIV, opened a new Health Equity Clinic for insured LGBTQ patients. When UT Health San Antonio students started the search for a clinic space, the leaders at AARC graciously offered their clinic space to house the new Pride Community Clinic. Through the hard work of the CMHE, its medical and nursing student leaders, and leaders at AARC, a collaboration was born. The Pride Community Clinic (PCC) will provide essential primary care to the local community, including sexually transmitted infection screenings, hormone replacement therapy for transgender patients, and HIV Pre- Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Linkages to vital mental health, sexual health, and substance abuse services are also available.

The PCC currently operates one Wednesday evening per month between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm and potential patients must make an appointment over the phone to secure one of the limited time slots. LGBTQ patients can be assured that all volunteers within the clinic are trained to be sensitive to LGBTQ issues and anyone 18 years of age or older can schedule an appointment. Those interested in the PCC can find out more on the AARC website: https://www.aarcsa.com/pride-community-clinic/

https://www.sacurrent.com/GuestEditorial/archives/2020/08/06/dr-chase-cates-brings-specialized-knowledge-to-aarc-practice

Elton John Aids Foundation Press Release

The Alamo Area Resource Center (AARC) is pleased to announce the opening of its Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Health Equity Clinic in San Antonio, the first non-profit clinic for LGBT health services in South Texas, funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF).

Throughout its 27 year history, AARC has sought to provide innovative and timely services to a broad spectrum of the San Antonio and South Texas community. In the past ten years, AARC has been a recipient of four Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) grants, and has set the standard for providing the “single point of care” services model, highlighting co-located programs linked by transportation. This model has proven effective in reducing those who drop of out care and increased medical adherence for our clients to a record rate in San Antonio and has been recognized nationally by the Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA). AARC will begin accepting new patients beginning July 5th, 2016.

With the combined vision of AARC, the LGBT Health Equity Clinic, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, AARC has reached another milestone on the way to delivering comprehensive, culturally sensitive and compassionate services to the LGBT community in San Antonio. For more information, contact Howard Rogers, Executive Director – 210-625-7200.