Evergreen Health is a Leader in Healthcare Equality

Since Evergreen was founded, we have dedicated our services to those who many feel uncomfortable, misunderstood, or  judged at mainstream health care providers.

We’ve expanded across WNY — from Buffalo to Jamestown and the Southern Tier — to offer programs and services to under-served and stigmatized communities. And we’ve become a leader in many areas of care, including health care for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Evergreen is proud to have received an HEI score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign for LGBTQ+ health care policies and procedures. 

Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) is the national LGBTQ benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. –Human Rights Campaign

We offer specialized care and support for our patients in the LGBTQ+ community, including mental health counseling, transition assistance, housing, food pantry and more.

You can view all of our ratings from the Human Rights Campaign here. 


For more information about Evergreen Health, the communities we serve in WNY and the services we offer, visit evergreenhs.org

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How do you get to a doctor’s appointment without a car? We can help.

At Evergreen Health, we pride ourselves on helping people get to where they want to be in their lives and with their health. The Transportation Services Program takes this mission a bit more literally than most of us, helping patients get to and from the medical appointments and other supportive services.

After all, getting to and from medical appointments is the first part of becoming — and staying — healthy.

Chris is the Transportation Coordinator at Evergreen. She processes patient requests for bus passes or tokens. “Addressing a patient’s transportation needs helps them to achieve a better quality of life, physically, mentally and emotionally,” she said. “I’ve had patients who were going through more than they could handle. Linking them with services — and providing transportation to get to those services — made it possible for them to find support and build relationships that benefit their overall health.”

Providing transportation services helps our patients take control of their own health.

Something as simple as reliable transportation can have a huge impact on the lives — and health — of our patients, but Chris notes that it’s about more than just getting to and from their medical appointments. “The TSP helps patients access a wide variety of important services that aren’t covered by their insurance benefits,” she said. This can include food pantries, social services, health education services, the pharmacy and other medical services.

“I get to work with our patients to help them find support and stable ground. Being a part of their success in finding their own path in a safe and healthy way makes it all worth it.”


Evergreen Health provides comprehensive health care for under-served and stigmatized communities throughout WNY. To learn more, visit www.evergreenhs.org.

Finding HIV Care Doesn’t Have to be Scary or Confusing

Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed or have been living with HIV for years, finding and receiving care can seem scary and confusing.

Sometimes it’s just hard to get to an appointment or fill your prescription. Evergreen Health knows this and will work with you — wherever you are in WNY — to make receiving and staying in treatment as easy as possible.

Don’t know where to start?

Call our HIV Helpline at 716-541-0674 — it’s free and confidential! You’ll be connected to one of our team members who will personally help you find and receive the care you need, including:

  • Finding a doctor
  • Getting prescriptions
  • Getting to and from appointmets
  • Finding housing and paying rent
  • Receiving other supportive services, like counseling, alcohol and substance use support, social and therapeutic groups, and more.

We’re here to help you feel better!

Care is just a phone call away.


Evergreen Health has offices in Buffalo and Jamestown, and works with communities across WNY. To learn more about the services we offer, visit evergreenhs.org

Sharing Your Status Doesn’t Have to be Scary

Meet Chris.

Chris is Evergreen Health’s Disease Intervention Specialist at our Testing and Sexual Health Center in Buffalo. Chris is on-site to help those newly diagnosed with HIV or an STI recall partners and contacts so he can notify them. The notification process is completely anonymous. Partners are not told the identity of the patient or any details of the possible exposure.

Here’s how it goes.

“My role, in conjunction with the DOH, is to notify and counsel patients and their partners who have been in contact with or exposed to STIs,” explained Chris. “I talk to patients to identify exposure dates and partners, and I research medical history to assist the medical staff with treatment.” Chris also makes referrals to link patients with any other care they may need, through Evergreen or another provider.

“It’s a great feeling when I contact a partner over the phone and they come in and get tested or treated,” said Chris. “Patients are already stressed about having to deal with a new life-changing medical condition, and anything I and Team Evergreen can do to help them and their partners take some of that burden off their shoulders, we will. Also, every partner that is treated means less risk of spreading the infection in the community.”

It’s all about harm reduction.

“We accept that people are having sex. Sometimes they’re going to have STIs, too. Letting someone know right away that we can help them and tell the people that may have been exposed is a huge relief for them, and it’s immediate,” said Matt, AVP of Enhanced Medical Services, who oversees the program. “It’s also a service to the people we notify, who may not have experienced any symptoms and who can now access appropriate treatment as quickly as possible, increasing their chances of good health and reducing the risk of further transmission.”

“The more we all talk in a sex positive manner and acknowledge that everyone has the right to make their own choices around their sexual health, the more we’ll continue to decrease the stigma that exists around STIs in general,” said Matt. “We’re working toward a time when people don’t feel angry or embarrassed if they receive a call that they may have been exposed.”


Evergreen’s Embedded Partner Program (EPP) is a one-year pilot program in partnership with the New York State Department of Health. To learn more about Evergreen Health and its services, visit www.evergreenhs.org

An Inside Look at Evergreen Health

As a media sponsor for AIDS Walk Buffalo, blogger Julia Jornsay-Silverberg takes you inside our downtown Buffalo location for a behind-the-scenes look at Evergreen!

You’ll see our Harm Reduction Center — where we offer Narcan kits/trainings, a needle exchange program, etc. — along with our Food Pantry, THRIVE Wellness Center, Staff Lounge and more!

Check it out:

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Now that you’ve had the virtual tour, be sure to stop by! Evergreen welcomes everyone.

To learn more about our services, visit www.evergreenhs.org.

Let’s Talk HIV with Liza

Meet Liza, a Linkage Specialist at Evergreen Health! Liza has been HIV positive for 24 years. With treatment, that diagnosis doesn’t stop her from anything — especially from living a healthy, happy life!

Learn about her experiences facing and fighting stigma:

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Founded as AIDS Community Services, Evergreen Health fosters healthy communities by providing medical, supportive and behavioral services to individuals and families in Western New York — especially those who are living with chronic illness or who are underserved by the healthcare system.

Learn more about our services in WNY at www.evergreenhs.org.

 

Teaming Up to Tackle HIV

Evergreen Health and UB Department of Medicine Participating in Clinical Trial investigating long-acting injectable treatment for HIV

Only location in Upstate New York

Evergreen Health and the University at Buffalo Department of Medicine – HIV and Infectious Diseases are participating in a multicenter clinical trial investigating the safety and efficacy of a regimen to treat HIV that is administered in monthly injections. ViiV Healthcare, the global specialist HIV company, majority owned by GlaxoSmithKline, with Pfizer Inc. and Shionogi Limited as shareholders, is sponsoring the trial. The first investigational long-acting injections are scheduled during May.  The injections will be administered at Evergreen Health.

“I am honored to have been selected to participate in this trial,” said Dr. Alyssa Shon, Principal Investigator of the Trial and Medical Director, Evergreen Health (pictured on left). Adherence is key to successful HIV therapy, and medication regimens that do not require daily dosing could transform how we treat HIV infection.”

The Antiretroviral Therapy as Long Acting Suppression (ATLAS) study is a global phase III study with a two-drug investigational regimen of long-acting, injectable cabotegravir (ViiV Healthcare) and long-acting injectable rilpivirine (Janssen Pharmaceuticals) in virally suppressed adults living with HIV. This injectable drug therapy, which is administered every four weeks, differs from most current antiretroviral drug therapy that is taken orally on a daily basis.

The University at Buffalo Department of Medicine – HIV and Infectious Diseases Division has been actively involved in HIV clinical trials for more than three decades. This clinical trial is another way that Evergreen and the University at Buffalo continue to collaborate to enhance HIV care in our region.

 

You’ll Recognize This Face at Almost Every Evergreen Event

If you’ve ever attended AIDS Walk Buffalo or a WNY Pride Week event, chances are you’ve spotted Melvin Martemianov-Roundtree. Melvin is one of Evergreen Health’s most dedicated supporters, giving generously of his time and energy both as an individual and through M&T Bank, where he works as a Business and Planning Analyst. “I first became involved with Evergreen through the Pride Resource Group (PRG),” said Melvin, referring to M&T’s LGBT employee organization. “It was a great way to get involved in the community. Working with Evergreen has been a rewarding experience especially when I see the positive impact Evergreen and the Pride Center have on the community.”

Melvin has been a volunteer at Evergreen events for more than four years and a member of the AIDS Walk steering committee for three years. His community spirit and leadership abilities don’t end there. Melvin is also on PRG’s Leadership Committee and has served as the group’s President and Co-Chair of Community Development & Outreach (a position he holds today). “Over time M&T has built a strong relationship with Evergreen,” said Melvin. “It’s centered on and built around volunteerism.”

M&T has indeed been a loyal community partner with Evergreen and the Pride Center for many years. “Their involvement runs deep,” said Ray Ganoe, Evergreen’s President & CEO. “We’ve had donors, volunteers and even Board members come to us from the ranks of M&T staff.”

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M&T has a highly visible role as presenting sponsor of the Buffalo Pride Festival. It’s not an empty gesture. Diversity and inclusion are built into M&T’s corporate culture. The bank has an excellent score of 95 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates businesses on their treatment of LGBT employees and customers.

While Evergreen, the Pride Center and the entire community certainly benefit from M&T’s emphasis on civic engagement, Melvin says that he benefits as well. “I think that the most rewarding experience comes from working with the community,” he said. “I’m a strong advocate for volunteerism. I’ve built many strong friendships through volunteering and it’s a great opportunity to learn from others while sharing my own stories and experiences.” Melvin is inspired by the way the community comes together to support common causes. “The highlight for me is seeing the energy in the people that volunteer and the passion they exude. I’ve worked the AIDS Walk in sunny, warm weather and in cold, rainy weather. No matter what the weather has been on the day of the Walk, you can see how much this event means to the community.”

Rachel Voelkle-Kuhlmann is the Volunteer & Event Coordinator at Evergreen. She notes that Melvin brings that same energy and passion that he sees in others to his own volunteer work. “Melvin is an incredible community supporter of Evergreen and the Pride Center,” said Voelkle-Kuhlmann. “He’s always ready to help with a smile on his face, from organizing condom packing parties for his colleagues at M&T to running the AIDS Walk incentives tent or providing valuable input as an AIDS Walk committee member. Melvin’s dedication to Evergreen is a testament to his drive for building a healthier and more inclusive Western New York. He inspires us all.”

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Melvin looks forward to expanding his role at Evergreen. “In the future I anticipate being even more involved as a volunteer for Evergreen and the Pride Center,” he said. “I look forward to being a continued advocate for the wonderful presence that these organizations have in our community, and I want to continue to help expand the already outstanding partnership between Evergreen and M&T!”

Keep your eye out for Melvin at this year’s Pride Week events!

To learn about current volunteer opportunities, visit buffalopridefestival.com. 

 

How one Evergreen Health patient is breaking barriers in WNY

Linda came to the United States as a political refugee from Morocco in 2015. Almost immediately she found herself at Evergreen Health. “My caseworker brought me to Evergreen because of their reputation for providing good care to LGBTQ people,” she said. “Evergreen is really involved with refugees and people with low incomes.” Once Linda began to receive primary care and mental health counseling her life took a dramatic turn for the better. “I suddenly had the opportunity to see an endocrinologist, a primary doctor and a counselor that I could talk to whenever I felt the need. I was able to have medical tests to put my mind at ease, and I got answers to all my questions.”

Testing revealed that Linda has a condition known as Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (PAIS), which impairs the masculinization of male genitalia in a developing fetus as well as the development of certain secondary sexual characteristics at puberty.

“I have an XXY chromosome set with PAIS,” explained Linda. “I have one ovary, a uterus and a vagina, but I also have one testicle. I have a female skeleton and I menstruate. People like me were once called ‘true hermaphrodites’ but that’s an obsolete term now.”

Linda was raised as a girl up until the age of 9, when she began high school. “I grew up with four brothers,” she recalled. “I was always a tomboy. I felt weird wearing a dress or a skirt. When I started high school I went with a shaved head and baggy clothes, and a year later I transferred to an all-boys school.” At 14 Linda graduated from high school and had her first period. “I felt so defeated. I stopped wearing boy’s clothing, and began the process of learning to be a woman. My late friend Ornella was a huge help to me. She understood me and guided me through the ups and downs.”

After high school Linda attended university in Casablanca and Paris, earning a Masters degree in international relations. “Now at almost 22, I’m able to accept myself as I am,” said Linda. “It’s been a long process. Thank God I have my family that supports me even from far away. Evergreen offered me an amazing support system as well, especially (Nurse Practitioner) Lynn Grucza. She’s one of the best things that could’ve happened to me.”

Linda is now able to enjoy life as it comes. “I know tomorrow is not guaranteed to us,” she said. “But I have hopes and goals for the future. I want to live a life with no more surgeries (I have a few correctives yet to do) and I want to work to spread awareness of genital mutilation and the impact it has on so many people around the world.”

Genital mutilation involves the ritual cutting or removal of some or all external female genitalia. The practice is rooted in gender inequality and attempts to control women’s sexuality, and is associated with a variety of negative health effects. There are no known health benefits to genital mutilation.

“I’ve been touched by genitalia mutilation from a very early age,” said Linda. “My mother was introduced to me only after surgery was performed just hours after I was born. I’ve lost a close friend to the practice as well. It’s very important for me to speak out for what I believe in. I feel like it’s my mission to shine the light on the damage genital mutilation causes. The physical pain is nothing compared to the emotional devastation.”

Linda is working on a website to fight genital mutilation and a documentary on the topic may also be in the works. “Buffalo has a lot of refugees who have unfortunately been exposed to mutilation because of their culture. And finally, I want to say that I’m extremely grateful to Evergreen for not only saving my life, but giving me the opportunity to express myself.”

Editor’s Note: if you’d like to know more about genital mutilation, share your story or get involved in Linda’s efforts to fight the practice, contact her via Instagram (@kriolili) and\or via email (MaeMGMT@outlook.com).