UAB’s 1917 Clinic to find new home in Lakeview

UAB’s long-standing HIV clinic is set to move locations in late 2020.

19172Courtesy KPS Group, Inc.The University of Alabama at Birmingham 1917 Clinic, the largest HIV health care unit in Alabama and one of the country’s preeminent HIV clinics, with more than 3,600 active patients, is set to relocate to the Dewberry Building located at 3201 Fourth Ave. in Birmingham’s Lakeview district. The clinic is projected to move in late 2020 or early 2021.

In its new space, the 1917 Clinic will occupy about 50,664 feet of space, a substantial upgrade from the current clinic located on 20th Street South, which is no longer a sustainable option for the needs of the clinic. 

“The relocation of the 1917 Clinic is one that will dramatically increase the kind of care we will be able to deliver to our patient base, including a new state-of-the-art environment in which we can provide such care,” said Clinic Director James Raper, Ph.D., CRNP. “Our patient population has grown nearly 10 percent per year for the past five years, so having the ability to grow with our patients’ needs is one of the most tremendously rewarding and awaited aspects of our pending move. Our patient population is often marginalized and stigmatized, and this new clinic is a testament to our commitment to providing them the highest standard of care available at UAB.” 

In addition to the clinical component of the 1917 Clinic’s moving to the new space and tripling in size, the clinic’s entire enterprise will move as well, including but not limited to a dedicated UAB Hospital 1917 pharmacy, the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic, Alabama Clinical Trials Unit, the Multicenter AIDS Cohort study/Women’s Interagency HIV Study Combined Cohort Study, and all patient support services, as well as its dental, Hep-C, palliative care, nutrition and psychiatric subclinics. 

Among the proposed aspects of the new clinic are a full pharmacy that can meet the needs of the clinic’s thousands of patients, activity space for physical exercise and classes, and a teaching kitchen for training with clinic nutritionists, as well as a resource center with access to computers and meeting space specifically designed for patient use. The 26 new exam rooms will be modeled after recent UAB renovations to clinics such as UAB’s Whitaker Building.

“Having been with the 1917 Clinic since it opened in 1988, I find it rewarding to see the remarkable progress that has been made in HIV care over the last three decades,” Michael Saag, M.D., founder of the 1917 Clinic. “Now that the clinic is moving into new space, we’re positioned to continue the progress into the future.” 

The location of the Dewberry Building will play an important role in the success of the 1917 Clinic and the future of UAB’s growing campus. It is located on a major public transportation route with ample parking, and these factors are intended to provide easier access for the 1917 patient population and keep them coming back for care. It also provides an easy route back to UAB’s nuclear downtown campus for physicians, researchers, staff and patients.

While the 1917 Clinic will occupy the majority of the Dewberry Building, Birmingham AIDS Outreach will move into space in the building as well, which is indicative of 1917’s mission to work with community partners and agencies to support all patient needs.

In its three-decade tenure, the 1917 Clinic has grown from an unassuming clinic at 1917 Fifth Ave. South to an NIH-funded facility with a staff of more than 150 and has treated more than 12,000 patients living with HIV. 1917 Clinic has also received HRSA Ryan White Early Intervention Service funding since 1997 and receives more than any other clinic in the country; this funding helps support outpatient health services that deliver care to those infected with HIV. The clinic has also received federal funding to implement HIV care into other practices, and serves as an education and training arm for the Southeast region.

It is not yet determined what will be done with the existing clinic space.