Al Hirschfeld Would be Proud: A Free Health Clinic Bearing His Name Expands

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume CIII, No. 11November, 2003

Leslie Cardell, C.S.W.

Members who don’t qualify for the Local 802 health plan, take heart! There is an expanded clinic for uninsured musicians.

The Actors’ Fund – which sponsors the Musicians’ Assistance Program – has announced a new partnership with New York-Presbyterian Hospital to provide health care to uninsured entertainment professionals. The service takes place at the fund’s Aurora supportive housing residence at 475 West 57th Street and is named the Al Hirschfeld Free Clinic.

Since 1999, the clinic has existed for uninsured and underinsured members of the entertainment community. It’s been staffed by volunteer physicians and was supported by the Actors’ Fund. Last year, this clinic served 850 patients.

The new affiliation with New York-Presbyterian Hospital represents an expansion of the clinic. It 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 employer-based health insurance like Local 802’s plan.

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 also offer their services at the clinic.

Through the affiliation with New York-Presbyterian, the clinic’s scope of services will include ongoing primary care, referrals and access to a wide range of specialty clinics, diagnostic and screening services and inpatient care.

Screening and other preventive services is vital to musicians. Why? Musicians often neglect 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.

To make an appointment at the Al Hirschfeld Free Clinic, call (212) 489-1939. The address is 475 West 57th Street, at Tenth Avenue.


In collaboration with Broadway Cares, the new Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, mentioned above, will be offering a free health fair on Tuesday, Nov. 4, in the second floor lounge of the Equity building on 165 West 46th Street, just east of Seventh Avenue. No appointment is necessary.

The fair will offer a wide range of information and services related to health care, including screenings for cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, prostate cancer and mammograms. Information on health insurance, and women’s health will be available as well as on numerous other health-related topics. Free flu shots will be available on the day of the fair, and information on how to sign up for vision screenings will be available.

Free flu shots will also be offered on a walk-in basis on Friday, Nov. 7 and Monday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Those shots, however, will be given at the Hirschfeld clinic at 475 West 57th Street, at Tenth Avenue.

To be eligible for flu shots and entrance to the health fair, you will need your Local 802 union membership card.

Call the MAP office at (212) 397-4802, or the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic at (212) 489-1939 for more information.