Letter from the Physicians and Dentists of the Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers

Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers includes the Jonathan Lax Treatment Center, the John Bell Health Center, the YHEP health center, Clinica Bienestar, the Broad Streed Ministry Clinic and the FIGHT Family Dentistry practice. We will be opening a new Pediatric Center next month. This letter is from the physicians and dentists at these health centers

We are physicians and dentists who work at Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers. We write to express our distress at the explicit call to “dismantle” Philadelphia FIGHT. We are proud to work for an organization that provides healthcare for all, with dignity and respect and without regard for ability to pay. The majority of our 4,600 patients are people of color. Many patients identify as gay, bisexual, gender non-conforming and/or transgender. A large number of our patients are living with HIV or with hepatitis C and we are proud to provide excellent care for both of these conditions. Many of our patients have a history of incarceration, and we are proud to work for the only healthcare center in Philadelphia built explicitly to care for their needs.

Every one of us works here because we are profoundly committed to serving this community. We have received unequivocal support from Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers in our efforts to provide the best care possible for our patients. We have never been asked to reduce the quality of care to conform to some financial standard. We have never been asked to deny care to anyone who cannot pay. We have never been asked to establish a different standard for the person with Medicaid from the person with private insurance. Instead, we are asked only to provide the best possible care for each and every one of our patients. To believe that this is true everywhere would be dangerously naïve. But it is true at FIGHT.

Recent calls for the “dismantlement” of Philadelphia FIGHT have compelled us to speak out. To do so would be to deny 4,600 patients access to the high quality healthcare that we offer, as well as case management, education services, mental health and substance use disorder treatment that our patients and clients receive. If FIGHT shuts down, we would disrupt the care of thousands of individuals.

We will not dismantle our health centers. We thank the Board, staff, and management of Philadelphia FIGHT for giving us the opportunity to do this important work in our community. We consider it to be an honor and a privilege to take care of our patients and we expect to be here to serve them for many years to come.

Laura Bamford, MD, MSCE
Mario Cruz, MD
Kari Hexem, DMD, MPH
Jay Kostman, MD
Karam Mounzer, MD
Jonathan Nunez, MD
Joshua Simpson, DMD
Tatyana Straus, DMD
Stacey Trooskin, MD, MPH, PhD
Franklin Yates, MD, MA

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Karam Mounzer, MD

Dr. Mounzer identified two major gaps in the care of patients with HIV/hepatitis C (HCV) co-infection, and the complexity of multidrug-resistant HIV treatment. He is involved with many clinical trials focusing on drug development and better understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis with the Wistar Institute. He is involved in teaching and mentoring.

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Dr. Mario Cruz

Dr. Mario CruzDr. Cruz is a board certified pediatrician who serves as the Medical Director for our Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center. He has presented and/or published in the fields of community violence and domestic violence prevention, quality improvement, behavioral health, curriculum development and mentorship. In 2019 he received the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for Innovations in Healthcare.

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