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July 15, 2003


The Actors' Fund's health clinic to be named the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic

The Actors' Fund of America and New York-Presbyterian Hospital have announced a new partnership to provide health care to uninsured entertainment professionals through an expanded free health clinic at The Fund's Aurora supportive housing residence in Manhattan. Since 1999, a free health care clinic for uninsured and underinsured members of the entertainment community, staffed by volunteer physicians, has been provided through The Actors' Fund. Last year, this clinic served 850 patients. The new affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital will allow the clinic to provide free medical care to thousands of entertainment professionals annually and address a critical need in the community, since many of these individuals do not qualify for employment-based health insurance.

"The Actors' Fund is thrilled to announce our partnership with New York-Presbyterian Hospital to better serve the needs of the entertainment community, particularly in this difficult economic climate, says Joseph Benincasa, Executive Director of The Actors' Fund. "Our affiliation with a major medical institution of this stature is a tremendous advantage in improving our delivery of health care services by offering primary care, acute care intervention, screening services and specialty care referrals to uninsured members of our profession."

The free clinic at The Actors' Fund's Aurora residence will continue to serve uninsured and underinsured members of the entertainment community. Under the direction of Dr. James Spears, a Family Physician in the Department of Family Medicine at New York-Presbyterian, the Clinic will be open Monday through Friday, by appointment. In addition, the Clinic will offer urgent sick-visit appointments when appropriate, and the physician on-call service of the Department of Family Medicine, will cover the practice when the clinic is closed. Volunteer physicians for numerous specialties will continue to offer their services at the Clinic.

"It is a great pleasure to be involved with The Actors' Fund in expanding and improving health services to the uninsured and underinsured in the entertainment industry," states Dr. James Spears, Medical Director of the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic. "Our goal is to provide high quality health care to those in need until they can obtain comprehensive health insurance and receive care in the private sector."

Through the affiliation with New York-Presbyterian, the clinic's scope of services will include on-going primary care, referrals and access to a wide range of specialty clinics, diagnostic and screening services and in-patient care. The provision of screening and other preventive services is vital to this population that often neglects medical treatment until a full-blown crisis develops, due to lack of insurance. Patients seen in the Clinic will benefit from regular contact with their physician, and from the integration of their diagnostic and treatment needs with a full range of specialty services through New York-Presbyterian.

"We are also pleased to announce a Campaign to name the clinic the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic and underwrite capital improvements," Benincasa explained. "Co-Chairs Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. of The New York Times, and Rocco Landesman of Jujamcyn Theaters are kicking off the $500,000 capital drive with leadership gifts. As a tribute to Al Hirschfeld's memory, his name will be forever associated with an extraordinary resource for performing artists and ensure that his legacy remains a prominent part of the entertainment community to which he dedicated his career and remarkable talents." The free health clinic at The Aurora currently receives major funding from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and from other donors.

The Actors' Fund of America is a national human service organization that provides for the welfare of all entertainment professionals. Founded in 1882, The Fund serves professionals in film, television, radio, music, opera, dance and theatre, assisting performers as well as those behind the scenes including creative professionals, technical and crafts professionals and support staff. The Actors' Fund has offices in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago and offers social services, an employment and training program and supportive housing. The Fund operates an assisted living and skilled nursing home in Englewood, New Jersey.

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