Dr. Thomas Klein has an extensive career in family medicine and has added to it with Man Up Medical, a different venture helping to improve men's self-esteem and sex lives.
Klein, a Detroit native, knew he wanted to be a medical doctor from a young age. At 4, he was hospitalized and, during that time, he was inspired to go into medicine.
"I was there for over two weeks and as I was recovering, I followed the doctors and nurses around, asking questions all the time and when I left the hospital, and I was not even quite 5, I told my parents I was going to be a doctor someday," Klein told Windy City Times. "I was always an incredibly extroverted person and so I knew I wanted to do medicine where I would not only be helping people, but would have direct contact with them. So, I knew it was going to be some sort of primary care medicine that I would do."
Klein went on to earn his undergraduate degree in psychology from Wayne State University and his MD degree from Michigan State University. In 1978, he moved to Chicago for his family practice residency at St. Joseph Hospital.
Klein worked at Howard Brown Memorial Clinic as a volunteer physician in 1979 and during that time he was one of the few openly gay doctors there.
Klein and Dr. Ross Slotten opened their private practice, Klein and Slotten Medical Association, in 1984. They have stayed in the same office at 711 W. North Ave. since then, but two and a half years ago they gave up the private practice model to become employed physicians, working for AMITA Health Medical Group. Since making the change they additionally began working with Dr. George Roepke.
Throughout his time practicing medicine, Klein has worked with many HIV/AIDS patients in Chicago. He added that Klein and Slotten Medical Association was one of the largest HIV private practices in the Midwest.
"The practice sort of skewed toward that [gay male patients] and, during the time of AIDS, we made the decision to stop seeing children," said Klein. "We see a lot of LGBTQ [people], especially gay men, with HIV/AIDS who started seeing ussome [from the] suburbs, because the city was where they could get their care without being shamed and have continued to see us."
In addition to his medical career, Klein previously served on the boards of Heartland Health Outreach, Howard Brown Health and Horizons ( before it became Center on Halsted ), and founded the now-defunct spa Spacio. He is also a member of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality. In 2016, Klein was inducted into The Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame.
"My mission is to not only make people better physically, but also mentally and emotionally about themselves," said Klein. "I spend a lot of time telling people you need to feel good about yourself, and wake up every day feeling that you're a good person, because there are a lot of people, especially gay men, but a lot of my heterosexual patients too, who walk around with some very negative self-images ... I try to project a pretty positive image to people, I also try to instill in them that we need to be proud of who we are and move on from our troubles and make life better for ourselves so we can then help make life better for others."
Klein met his husbandDr. David Gitomer, a DePaul University professorthrough a patient who was also in an HIV-support group at Howard Brown that Gitomer led. The couple have been together for 31 years and married for six.
"Thank God that David understood, because he lost so many people in his support group that through the years of dealing with people dying all the time, he was there as real great support for me and yet wasn't doing exactly the same thing, so that you didn't have sort of competing medical careers," Klein said of the emotional support Gitomer has provided through the years.
Now in his 60s, Klein said he is as busy as ever.
Having a passion for gardening, he can be found tending to his roof-deck garden at his West Edgewater home and is excited about the potential gardening space at his Michigan home. Also, in his list of hobbies are watching movies and TV, and dining at various restaurants.
In summer 2018, Klein took on another medical endeavorMan Up. Man Up is a clinic for men ( and a few women ) who are interested in sermorelin, a growth-hormone stimulator. Sermorelin, Klein explained, stimulates growth hormone and helps people as they age to look and feel better without giving them growth hormones.
"It's good, but it's sort of a new challenge getting a new business going again at this point, but it's also exciting because I have a real entrepreneurial spirit and so starting something new and having a different focus and shift has been fun and exciting," said Klein.
Klein, along with co-founders Dean Hervochon and Dr. Peter Georgiou, currently help about 180 continued clients ranging from their late 20s to late 70s. Man Up is run out of Georgiou's chiropractic office in Lake View.
"Either I had to say no, I couldn't do this for people anymore, or find a place to do it in, and we knew that there are a lot of these clinics that have popped up around the city. We wanted a place where people could come in, see a doctor and other providers in person, rather than just coming in and quickly getting medication, paying for it and leave," said Klein, who is Man Up's medical director.
Since insurance does not cover these types of services and medications, Man Up is a cash business and currently offers complimentary consultations and blood work to determine if people would benefit from the medications given. The injectable erectile medicine is called Trimix. Klein explained that the injection involves a tiny needle and is not painful. Testosterone replacement therapy for men with deficiencies found in their lab results is also among the services the clinic offers.
"It's very rewarding when you're able to provide somebody with ability to, to say it bluntly, have an erection, when they haven't been able to for quite a while because the oral medications don't work or they cause bad side effects," said Klein. "It really is a way for men to be able to feel better about themselves."
For more information on Man Up Medical, visit manupmedical.com .