Legacy Health Center Will Soon Open Its Fabulous Doors in Montrose

If you're of the hip, after-hours nightclub set, then you remember Club 1415 in the heart of Montrose. It's reopening under a different name in September -- the new space still caters to a Montrose clientele, and there's still plenty of alcohol around (albeit of the rubbing variety). Most importantly, it's still a good place to get checked out.

Legacy Community Health Center is filling the space of the former club -- an idea inspired when Legacy's executive director was at 1415 for a drag show. Eric Roland, senior director of marketing, was with her at the time.

"'You know,' she was telling me while looking around at the huge space," said Roland. "I said, 'Oh, I know exactly what you're thinking.'" And boom: Legacy's new home was born, twice the size of its old center on Westheimer. The grand opening's on September 12, but we got a sneak peek inside the four-story behemoth of wellness.

Right now, Legacy's offices are spread out all over Houston, but the new $12 million dollar headquarters will consolidate three of its locations. Legacy, which has long been the largest federally qualified health center in Houston, will be a one-stop shop for the needs of any Houstonian who comes in, regardless of their ability to pay. Dentists, psychiatrists, therapists, ophthalmologists, HIV/AIDS specialists and general practitioners are on hand to treat everyone who passes through its doors.

There's a "body-positive" gym, a large space where HIV and diabetes patients can build body mass. Legacy even introduced a new program into the space: an expansive dental lab. Half a floor is dedicated to STI testing, and private rooms are dedicated to HIV testing and counseling.

Legacy began in 1978 as an answer to the AIDS crisis. Gay men were the primary patients. It broadened its focus on the whole GLBT community, and soon opened its doors to everyone. Now, Legacy serves a hugely diverse population, about half of whom are Hispanic.

"We see all kinds of people in here: homeless, drug addicts, children," Roland said. Each population has a secure, dedicated space inside the spacious building.

Color and space are the key elements to the new building, which is a far cry from drab and dreary doctors' offices. Each floor is color coordinated. (The top floor is purple -- "It's called fabulous grape," a Legacy employee explained.) There's even a vividly colored children's corridor for the 21 percent of Legacy patients under 12.

Light soaks the empty hallways -- a change from Legacy's old location, where none of the exam rooms had windows. "Because of HIV testing, privacy was so paramount then," Roland said. Now, every exam room has generous tinted windows. "We wanted to bring more joy to the patients," Roland said. "The patients get to have the great view rather than us having the great view."

Be sure to come out to the 'Trose for Legacy's grand opening block party on October 16.


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