A Prescription for Healthcare Equality
BY Advocate Contributors
May 25 2011 10:20 AM ET
If there’s any place where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people ought to be treated with dignity, it’s in their doctor’s office, clinic, or the local emergency room. But we all know this still is often not the case.
Fortunately, there have been several recent developments that give us hope for big changes for the health of LGBT patients. A report released weeks ago by the Institutes of Medicine found that there are vast gaps in the existing research into LGBT health and that the challenges LGBT people face in virtually every area of health and mental health must be addressed. The report was quickly followed by a strong set of recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services. The healthcare world and the federal government are taking some major steps in the right direction. But these kinds of words require action to make any real difference in the health or healthcare experiences of LGBT people.
One example of how this change can work in practice is a new partnership between the National LGBT Cancer Network and New York City’s Health and Hospital Corporation — the largest municipal hospital group in the country, with 39,000 staff. Together, we've created a very real and practical tool to improve the healthcare experiences of LGBT patients.
This month, we are rolling out a program that we hope will be used across the country or simply inspire others to do similar work in their communities. The goal is educating healthcare professionals by telling the stories of LGBT patients and providers, putting a face on these issues, and pairing it with information and simple practical guidelines for increasing cultural competency. This new powerful tool is exactly what the Institutes of Medicine and Health and Human Services were talking about.
But what is all of this really about?
Take the case of Rosemary Lopez, who was visiting Florida with her family when one of her daughters had to be taken to the emergency room. There, the staff were insensitive and vocally expressed their disbelief that a child could have two mothers. Right in front of their daughter. A stressful situation quickly became a traumatic one. This is simply wrong and goes against every principle of healthcare practice.
Rosemary is just one of the voices featured in our video, “To Treat Me, You Have To Know Who I Am.” The video is part of the Network’s comprehensive new Reexamining LGBT Healthcare program for training medical professionals in working with LGBT patients, developed initially for HHC use. Her story is one of many patients in the video. We also hear from providers about the challenges they face in treating LGBT patients. (You can see an excerpt of the video here.)
And, as I have seen firsthand, this problem isn’t always born out of outright bigotry against LGBT people, but rather widespread and pervasive ignorance on the part of medical staff on how to recognize and treat diverse patients. If we don’t educate them, who will?
- New Antigay Children's Book Teaches Kids to Hate LGBT Families
- Transgender High School Senior Skips Graduation Over School's Transphobic Policy
- WATCH: What Happens When a Gay Boy Scout Comes Out to His Camp Leader
- Op-ed: Boy Scouts Must Complete the Inclusion Process to Remain Relevant
- Op-ed: Adopting the T in LGBT
- Boy Scouts Vote to End Discrimination Against Gay Youth
Sign Up For Email Updates
- Books New Antigay Children's Book Teaches Kids to Hate LGBT Families May 23 2013 8:17 PM
- Commentary Op-ed: Boy Scouts Must Complete the Inclusion Process May 23 2013 7:32 PM
- Sports Gay Athletes Hop Aboard the Condom Mobile May 23 2013 7:15 PM
- Crime Questions Over Police Response to Murder of N.Y. Gay Man Still Unanswered May 23 2013 7:02 PM
- Marriage Equality Nevada Takes Another Step Toward Marriage Equality May 23 2013 6:41 PM
- Youth Boy Scouts Vote to End Discrimination Against Gay Youth May 23 2013 6:22 PM
- Theater WATCH: How Billy Porter Becomes Kinky Boots Drag Diva May 23 2013 6:15 PM