New Program Attempts To Eliminate Barriers For LGBT Patients
A new program aims to impact the healthcare experience for thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients. NY1’s Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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The city's public hospital system is launching a mandatory cultural competence training program for its entire 37,000 member workforce.
Developed in partnership with the National LGBT Cancer Network, the program, the first of its kind in the nation, will work toward eliminating barriers to healthcare for LGBT patients by improving provider knowledge about their health needs.
“This is a city that has a very large population of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender individuals who come to our facilities for help, and we need to be as sensitive and respectful of their needs as everybody else's,” says Alan Aviles, president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation.
“The difference comes down to behaviors that are a result of the stigma and discrimination we still face as sexual and gender minorities,” says Liz Margolies of the National LGBT Cancer Network. “So, for example, dramatically increased smoking rates, nearly double that of the general population, increased alcohol use and abuse, more mental health issues, STIs, HPV and my particular interest is cancer. While most people are not really looking at it we have dramatically increased cancer risks.”
The initiative comes at a time when even the federal government is recognizing those disparities and promoting the idea of cultural competence training as part of the fix.
Patients who have experienced discrimination tell their stories in the training video and say there is definitely a need.
“I was a cancer patient and I was denied care at two major New York City hospitals at a time when I had just received diagnosis of very highly aggressive breast cancer,” says Jay Kallio, a transgender male. “My doctor admitted he had real problems with my transgender status.”
HHC officials and advocates are hoping initiatives like this one expand far beyond public hospitals. They'd also like to see other cities and private healthcare systems adapt similar programs.