HOUSTON (Dec. 16, 2009) – The Harris County Hospital District celebrated World AIDS Day and the 20th anniversary of Thomas Street Health Center with a nod to history and to reaffirming its commitment to meet the needs of HIV/AIDS patients in Harris County.
No better example of this commitment was speaker and patient David Douhunt, a 20-year Thomas Street patient.
“Compared to where we were, Thomas Street has been a saving grace for all of us,” he said. “I would’ve never thought this facility would grow to what it is today.”
When Mr. Douhunt was confronted with his HIV-positive diagnosis in 1989, he was angry, confused and terrified about his future. He sought care from HCHD, which at the time was opening a new facility on Thomas Street to care for HIV/AIDS patients.
Today, the first free-standing HIV/AIDS facility in the nation is a testament of the hospital district’s dedication and commitment to providing high-quality healthcare to HIV/AIDS patients.
The celebration attracted former staff and supporters of the health center including Jon Lindsay, former state senator and judge, Harris County; Lois Moore, former HCHD president and CEO; and Susan Miller, MD, former medical director.
“This is a true jewel in our community,” said Dr. Miller.
Other attendees included David S. Lopez, HCHD president and CEO; Thomas Giordano, MD, medical director, Thomas Street; John Tuttle, chair, Advisory Council, Thomas Street.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee presented the health center a Congressional resolution honoring the dual occasion.
Thomas Street is a one-stop provider for all outpatient services for HIV/AIDS patients in Harris County. From pharmacy, drug and alcohol counseling and pain management to rheumatology, psychiatry and physical therapy, patients at Thomas Street receive it all.
“I’ve never been hospitalized or gotten sick with pneumonia,” said Mr. Douhunt. “The people here care about me and all their patients, and it shows.”
Mr. Douhunt became a founding member of the Volunteer Patient Mentor Program at Thomas Street, in which HIV/AIDS patients help newly diagnosed patients learn about the center and its services. The mentors become a sounding board and source of comfort of knowing an HIV/AIDS person who’s doing well.
“I know how they feel. I lived through the same thing,” he says. “I can tell them the real story and give them hope for the future.”