Sen. Casey secures $400,000 in funding for Mazzoni Center

From left, Sen. Bob Casey, Mazzoni Center Executive Director and President Sultan Shakir, and Mazzoni Executive Medical Officer Dr. Stacey Trooskin. Casey speaks at a podium as Shakir and Trooskin look at him.
From left, Sen. Bob Casey, Mazzoni Center Executive Director and President Sultan Shakir, and Mazzoni Executive Medical Officer Dr. Stacey Trooskin. (Photo: Jeremy Rodriguez)

A local LGBTQ+ health and wellness center will be able to upgrade critical basic medical equipment thanks to the efforts of a PA senator.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey made an announcement June 6 about $400,000 in community project funding that he secured to help Mazzoni Center provide comprehensive care for Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ community.

Casey spoke to PGN following a press conference at Mazzoni about making this announcement during Pride Month.

“It’s so gratifying to be able to have an investment like this land through the appropriations process, and then to be able to announce it this month obviously has a special meaning,” Casey said.

With this federal funding, which Casey secured as part of the Fiscal Year 2024 government funding bill, the LGBTQ+ health and wellness center will be able to bolster security systems, upgrade vitals machines, replace outdated technology and purchase a generator which will prevent critical medications from spoiling during power outages.

Sultan Shakir, the President and Executive Officer of Mazzoni Center, noted the importance of this funding.

“I think it is really helpful to have support from the federal government to ensure that we can continuously support the LGBT community regardless of whether or not there’s a power outage or there’s flooding or other things that might compromise the facility,” Shakir told PGN. “People need health care regardless of what’s happening with climate change or with the power grid. Ensuring that we can continuously operate and provide care to people when they need it is huge.”

During the press conference, Casey spoke about the difficulties of getting funding from the appropriations committee, noting that some people think funding “just happens like that.”

“That is the farthest thing from the truth,” Casey said. “It is an exceedingly complicated and competitive process. So when there’s an award made, you have climbed a high mountain to get those dollars, and it demonstrates the importance and the necessity of making this investment to quality health care. So [I’m] happy to be part of it. God bless your work.”

While Casey thanked Mazzoni, Shakir thanked the community.

“We thank the community for the support and the trust that they put in our organization,” he said. “This appropriation is one of many amazing things that’s happened in the organization over the past year, including securing status as a federally qualified health center, and that designation — in addition to the work of our team to help eliminate our wait list for new patients — really helps ensure that we can not only provide some of the highest quality care, but we can provide that care when people need it, in the way that people need it.”

Dr. Stacey Trooskin, Mazzoni’s Executive Medical Officer, publicly thanked Casey for his efforts.

“Last year, we provided over 5500 vaccines to our patients, and we drew lab work for over 7,200 patient visits, and any interruption in electrical services would have compromised our ability to do that,” Trooskin said. “Every month, we provide well over 100 patients with the latest long-acting injectable HIV medication as well, which requires refrigeration. 

“We are incredibly grateful and quite relieved to have access to a generator that will protect us from service disruption. The money will also go to expanding our low threshold services for STI testing, HIV testing and viral hepatitis testing at our Washington West location. So on behalf of our staff and our patients, thank you so much for all of the work that you’ve done to secure this money.”

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