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GLBT Health Center Raises $650K In 50 Days

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Howard Brown Health Center has raised $650,000 in a period of 50 days, after a financial emergency had the gay and lesbian medical clinic on the brink of closing.

The health center, located at 4025 N. Sheridan Rd. in the Uptown neighborhood, launched an appeal for donations Nov. 4, announcing it may have to close its doors. The clinic has served the gay and lesbian community for 36 years.

The health center made an appeal for $500,000 in 50 days, and donations started streaming in right away.

Officials say more than 1,400 donors responded, including corporations, clients, staff and board members. An anonymous donor offered $200,000 to be used to match other gifts.

The names of each donor will be displayed in the lobby of the Howard Brown building.

Howard Brown serves about 36,000 people a year. The health center was founded in 1974, and opened its first clinic two years later.

The health center now offers everything from HIV and STD testing and prevention, to medical care and counseling. Howard Brown also operates the Triad Health practice at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, the Broadway Youth Center, and the three Brown Elephant resale shops in the Boystown and Andersonville neighborhoods and in Oak Park.

But the health center was jeopardized by the mismanagement of $3 million dollars in federal grant funds between 2006 and 2010. Internal investigations revealed the money was used to cover operating expenses, which led to the firing of two top administrators.

However, as of a month ago, Gay Chicago Magazine reported the projected 2011 budget for the clinic shows revenues of nearly $13 million and no deficit. The clinic has also charted a path to be recognized as a federally-qualified health center, which would allow for federal funding to cover such services as pediatric care and dental work, the magazine reported.

The clinic is also working to begin a capital campaign, increase its focus on women's health care, and provided satellite services on the city's South and West sides, the magazine reported last month.

The center also recently announced the appointment of a new chair for its board of directors. Effective Jan. 1, Karma Israelsen of Chicago will take over the post, coming the board of the health center from Career Education Corporation, according to the Windy City Times.

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