Damaris Garcia & Xavier Burgos Interview – Sexual Wellness Clinic 1st Anniversary

Author: Will Pettway

While we are all at home in this time of crisis, it is important for us to take time to reflect; while it’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed, we must find joy. We should celebrate work that we have done as a community to help make the world a better place. CCHE’s Sexual Wellness Clinic is something to celebrate as we approach the Clinic’s first anniversary! Still being fresh to the CCHE community, there’s a lot about the resource I didn’t know about. To find out more about the Sexual Wellness Clinic, I connected with Damaris Garcia and Xavi Burgos, who make up some of the Clinic’s staff. What might’ve been a conversation over coffee any other month, turned into comfy online correspondence from our respective homes as we practice Social Distancing.  (See pictures)

The Sexual Wellness Clinic was founded a year ago by Dr. Anu Hazra and follows the idea that regardless of financial situation, people deserve to receive appropriate care. The Sexual Wellness Clinic provides comprehensive sexual health services: from health education to STI treatment, access to PrEP, PEP, birth control options, and linkage to primary care services. A major component of the care given at the Clinic involves empathy, meeting the clients where they are. A comment Xavi often receives after completing services is of how compassionate the staff are, “It reminds me that people have traumatic and off-putting experiences with healthcare,” he says. Damaris adds, “I’m here to make this ride a bit smoother.”

Damaris worked at Howard Brown Health in 2017. While there, she recognized the different barriers to care. Now as STI clinic support/medical assistant, she told me how she “feels a type of way” about seeing patients who are without support; She named being the support system for people for people who didn’t have one as a key reason for why she’s doing this work. She continued, “I take pride in what I do- I love what I do.” Damaris talks a bit about how in the Latinx community, sexual wellness isn’t a common topic, and how that conversation usually starts later in life. With stories in the back of her mind of people often leaving more confused after a medical appointment than when they came in, she knew she wanted to be part of changing this. Damaris reflected on a returning client telling her, “Girl, I’m so happy it’s you,” which showed Damaris how clients look forward to seeing her when they come to Clinic, knowing that they will receive quality care.

Xavi shares that his passion is for improving the life outcomes of marginalized communities. Having a background in sexual health education, he shares that it is meaningful for him to engage in conversations around sexual health, “What’s notable for me is educating people about their options and increasing knowledge on sexual health.” Working to assist people navigating the complex health system, Xavi aims to cultivate a future of positive health outcomes for marginalized communities.

After having conversations with these two members of a very passionate team, it is apparent that the Sexual Wellness Clinic will continue to provide quality care to many who might not otherwise have the privilege. “It’s an honor to work on a fairly new project and be a part of its success and growth.” Xavi assured.

The clinic is located: 5758 S. Maryland Ave. UChicago Medicine. (DCAM: 5D) and is open Monday through Friday 9-5pm. For more information you feel free to email uchicagoswc@uchicago.edu.