You might want to call him Dr. Phil, but Harlem United’s Philip Gyura is a family nurse practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice, not an M.D. “Call me whatever you want,” he says with a laugh. “As long as you’re nice, and even if you’re not, I’ll work with it.”
Phil has been working at Harlem United for about a year and a half. He began his career in healthcare focusing on addiction at a detox unit in Minneapolis, then he later started working with more clients living with HIV and Hepatitis C. He joined the Harlem United family after seeing some spirited clients in action at a vogue show. “They said, ‘Do you want to work for us?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, yes I do!’” Now, he leads Harlem United’s mobile clinics and works in Harlem United’s health centers, which serve patients across New York City.
As Director of Mobile Health Services, Phil is responsible for Harlem United’s two mobile health units, one medical and one dental. He describes the mobile units as “an outreach of all of Harlem United’s services,” bringing healthcare to populations that may not be able to come to a brick-and-mortar doctor’s office. He also sees patients a few days a week at some of Harlem United’s health centers, like The Nest in Central Harlem and El Faro in East Harlem. Above all, he wants to always be available for his patients.
“As long as we’re always there, as long as they can rely on us,” he says. “That’s why I carry my work cell phone. If you can call me, if you can talk to someone, as long as somebody’s there, we can work on getting you in, getting you where you need to be. We’re going to meet you where you are.”
Phil works directly with many people who face high risk for HIV infection and other STIs, including intravenous drug users and sex workers. But he says it’s important to focus on the whole person and address everyone’s basic health needs, not just those that present high risks.
“With my active-using population or my sex-working population, all everyone cares about is, ‘When was your last HIV test?’” he says. “But I ask them, ‘You’re standing on that corner from 9 to 5. What kind of shoes are you wearing? What’s wrong with your knees? What are you eating? What else can we do to maintain your health?’”
This point of view affirms Harlem United’s role in the community as a place for all kinds of health care, from pediatrics to primary care. While we’re best known as a health provider for people living with HIV, Harlem United clinics like The Nest can provide healthcare to anyone.
“We’re in a change right now,” Phil says of Harlem United. “We want to keep Harlem United a place for those with HIV. We want to keep that community going. We’re also not just about HIV or just a place of last resort. We can be your community clinic, and you’re going to see your community in this clinic. We’re here to represent Harlem and all that it is.”