Get to Know The Institute’s PurpLE Clinic
Photo: Dr. Ravi, center, and other staff celebrate 50 patient visits at the PurpLE Clinic.
Last month was Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month. Last year, we opened a clinic for anyone who has experienced sexual exploitation – The PurpLE Clinic. PurpLE Clinic founder and former Beth Israel Residency in Urban Family Medicine trainee, Anita Ravi, MD spoke with us about the once a week clinic.
Tell us about the PurpLE Clinic.
We serve survivors of sexual violence, including persons who have experienced sexual assault, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence and rape. The PurpLE Clinic offers primary care (including gynecologic services), as well as connections to more specialized care. The clinic is held on weekends, most often on Sunday, and is located at 16 E 16th Street, between Union Square Park and 5th Avenue.
The PurpLE Clinic is an acronym for Purpose: Listen & Engage- two key features in providing sensitive medical care!
How did the clinic form?
The clinic was created in response to feedback from anti-sexual violence and anti-sex trafficking community based organizations that experienced challenges in connecting survivors of sexual violence with trauma-informed and stigma-sensitive medical care. It was even more challenging coordinating this sort of care for people who are uninsured or undocumented. As a Federally Qualified Health Center, the Institute for Family Health recognized the natural fit and importance of serving as a medical home for this population.
What should a patient expect when visiting the PurpLE Clinic?
Our clinic was designed with the input of survivors, many of whom described avoiding contact with the medical system except in extreme circumstances, due to multiple fears, including re-traumatization and stigma. As a result, from our front desk staff to our case managers and clinical staff, our team is committed to providing a positive, comfortable experience for every patient. We aim to streamline the intake process for new patients, so that people do not feel they are repeatedly being asked the same medical history questions, and when more sensitive topics are approached, people can expect that they will be given an explanation as to why the information is important in providing thorough medical care. We provide significantly longer visits to allow all issues to be adequately dealt with and to avoid the rushed feeling of typical office visits. When needed, we also coordinate care with our mental health team and can provide “warm handoffs” or live introductions between the patient and the mental health caregiver. This allows people to feel more comfortable with a new provider and truly puts the patient at the center of our team-based approach to care.
Why is this clinic so important? To the community? To you as a practitioner?
It’s exciting to be a part of an organization that is among the few in the country to have a primary care program for sexual violence survivors in an FQHC setting! We recognize that a survivor’s health is impacted not only by medical issues, but also factors such as housing, employment, food security and legal representation. It’s meaningful to work in a clinic that recognizes the value of connecting patients with these multi-sector resources. As a family medicine physician, I am also proud to be able to offer care for both survivors of sexual violence, their children, survivors of all ages and genders, cis and transgender persons and survivors who are from the United States and abroad. Since opening last year, we’ve also had the chance to collaborate with community based organizations on health education workshops, support other health systems interested in developing similar care models, provide trauma-informed care trainings for physician organizations and also connect with local and national policymakers about ways our healthcare system can optimize care for this population. Creating connections on all of these levels makes the Institute’s PurpLE Clinic truly a special project to be a part of!