An Open Letter to the Board and Supporters of the Howard Brown Health Center
Some things never change in community politics, but in this day and age of expecting openness and transparency from both our governmental and community leadership, I and many other supporters of the Howard Brown Health Center want and need a full accounting of the events of the last week from the Board of Howard Brown. As the founding PI of the MACS, I first became aware of major problems at Howard Brown when I was told approximately 10 days ago that the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Center grant to Howard Brown was being transferred on an emergency basis to Northwestern University. Some of you who read this might remember that I was fired as the PI of the MACS in 1985 for allegedly trying to transfer my role as PI from Howard Brown to Northwestern University to protect myself from the organization/family who had taken over all of the major administrative and Board members of what was then the Howard Brown Clinic. Only years later did the real facts come out- that one powerful business leader was so jealous of my direct connections with Mayor Washington's administration that he engineered a coup at HBC primarily to oust me from the Clinic and my leading role in the MACS research project. I am proud that despite those humiliating events that took place almost 25 years ago, that I have remained affiliated with the Chicago MACS and even received a "Founding PI" award from the Board of HBHC in June of 2009 as part of their celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Chicago MACS.
There are strange parallels to the current situation. Only days after Mr. Cook supposedly requested the transfer of the MACS grant to Northwestern, the Board placed both him and their Chief Financial Officer on Administrative Leave, and have since stonewalled anyone asking for more information about what is going on. HBHC exists because of the support of the GLBTI community and the many important clinical and research programs that serve our community and the larger Chicago population. Both as a community-based Clinic and a Federally approved Community Health Clinic, HBHC has a responsibility to inform our community about just what is going on there. Only in that way can our community come to the aid of Howard Brown, ensure that its vital services to all persons in need of competent HIV care and STI testing and treatment, and continue in good faith to support the Clinic with our money and volunteer efforts. What we don't need is a "white washed" report from the Board, but an open community forum where all sides get to speak openly about the current crisis at HBHC and how to resolve it before a cherished community institution suffers irreparable damage.
David G Ostrow, MD, PhD
Co-Founder of HBHC
Founding PI of the MACS
Chair, Behavioral Working Group of the MACS
Read Windy City Times article: Leaders ousted at Howard Brown at: