Lyon Martin clinic facing closure

Lyon Martin website

Lyon Martin Health Services -- a legendary health clinic that specializes in women's and LGBT health, celebrating its 30th anniversary last year -- is having serious financial problems and could close down as soon as Thursday.

Rumors of the closure have been circulating all day, with Sup. Scott Wiener telling the SF Appeal that a source told him the clinic was closing. And the Guardian has now learned that at least one patient, health educator Catie Magee, had an appointment for Monday canceled by the clinic and was told, “We have to cancel your appointment because Lyon Martin is closing.”

The clinic is the only free-standing community clinic in California that serves to women and transgender people in a place sensitive to sexual and gender identity. The non-profit closure of the clinic would be a great loss to the community since it also provides healthcare regardless of one’s ability to pay.

"If you're uninsured and your trans or a lesbian, you've probably been to Lyon Martin," transgender labor organizer Gabriel Haaland, who used the clinic for his transition in 1997, told us. Unlike most medical providers, he said Lyon Martin offered hormone shots and other services to anyone who sought them "without making you jump through a whole bunch of hoops."

Haaland and other supporters of the center plan to gathered tonight at 7 pm in Room 301 of the LGBT Center (1800 Market) to discuss the center and what can be done to save it.

The clinic's namesakes, pioneering lesbian and feminist activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, were the first same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license by the city back in 2004, and they were married by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom on Feb. 16, 2004,

In the past year, the clinic served 2,500 patients. Elizabeth Sekera, the clinic director told us that the clinic even sees patients outside the county of San Francisco and unfortunately if the clinic closes, those patients won’t even be covered under the city’s health access program, Healthy San Francisco, since they do not live here.

Sekera said she was unable to comment on why and when the clinic will be closed. She also did not give any information on where patients would be referred to but did say that the staff at Lyon Martin has opposed the closure of the clinic because there isn’t a transition of care plan and the abandonment of patients is unethical.

It is uncertain whether the clinic, which is funded solely by donations, is closing due to funds. The clinic is run by about 23 staff members, interns, and lots of volunteers. The support section in its website pleads, “We need your help! We need it now.”

Magee said the loss of Lyon Martin would be huge blow to the city, particularly after New Leaf, which also served an LGBT clientele, closed last year. “It's a shame,” Magee said, noting Lyon Martin's excellent “reputation as a place for women's and LGBT healthcare.”

Charlene Hawek, who has been a patient at the clinic for two years, expressed concern for where she will go if the clinic does close. When asked if there is any other option she responded, “There’s the Tom Waddell center but it’s not the same.”

Sekera hopes to see the clinic “remain open, possibly under a different name, or a full institution to exist in the same state, live for another 30 years.”


7:00 at the LGBT Center, room Q11. Strategic planning for a community response to the closing of Lyon-Martin Health Services.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

I am a former patient who has moved to the East Coast. Please post information on what people outside the Bay Area can do to support Lyon-Martin, which has supported so many women.

Posted by Kate Krauss on Jan. 25, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

Check out /
"The Lyon-Martin Board of Directors announced today that it has become financially impossible to continue operating, and has made the difficult decision to initiate a plan to transfer patient care and close the clinic. "

"Lyon-Martin needs to raise at least $250,000 to reduce immediate debts and be able to continue providing invaluable healthcare to its patients. Should that happen, Lyon- Martin may be able to reorganize rather than close. To this end, the clinic will continue to accept donations and pledges. "

BTW - the name of the organization is "Lyon-Martin Health Services" not "Lyon Martin Health Services".

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

Lyon-Martin, start a kickstarter page, set a huge goal, come one, SF can deliver. It's sad to hear about KUSF but this is even worse!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 12:14 am

For the first time since I was a child, I have been able to establish a relationship of continuity with a medical practitioner at Lyon-Martin Clinic. I am so grateful for this clinic, the staff, and all the work that they do. I'm just devastated that their doors are closing so abruptly.

I am uninsured and a full-time student and am curious what the Board of Directors plans on telling Lyon-Martin patients where to go if they shut their doors. Health care is no longer about taking care about people, but about money, insurance and pharmaceutical companies. But places like Lyon-Martin stand up to big money and big business by creating all the care and services that they do for people who need it: not people who can afford it, but people who need it: that's what health care should be about.

The last time I had an appointment, they got me in on the same day and I was so relieved, so grateful that I could be seen that I cried to the staffer and said how thankful I am and I don't know what I would do if this place didn't exist.

I'm trying to find the beauty in the ugliness here, but my heart is sad.

Posted by Lisa on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 10:11 am

For those of you who want to help. Please donate. We need $250,000 to keep the clinic open in the next 2 weeks, and half a million to keep it running indefinitely. Please spread the word and donate all you can.

You can donate at the lyon martin website:

Also, if you have fundraising ideas (art auctions, bake sales, outreach to big donors), please contact Lyon Martin.

Also, there will be a fundraiser at El Rio from 7-10 this Sunday. It will be packed.

Posted by Guest help lyon martin on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

The clinic needs $250,000 in the next two weeks to stay open. You can make direct donations at:

An estimated $500,000 is needed to keep the clinic open in the long term. Please spread the word and donate as deep as you can.

Posted by Guest help lyon martin on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 7:34 pm