AG Healey’s Office Partners with Medical Community to Improve Care for LGBT Patients

LGBT PatientsBoston Bruins center, Patrice Bergeron, comes out in support of LGB and transgender rights, #EveryoneWelcome
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Trainings Held for Hospital Personnel to Improve Access to Medical Care for LGBT Patients, Special Focus on Transgender Individuals

BOSTON—As a part of her efforts to improve access and quality of health care for Massachusetts residents, Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office has partnered with the National LGBT Health Education Center at the Fenway Institute and the Massachusetts Hospital Association to train hospital personnel on improving access to medical care for LGBT patients across the state, with a special focus on transgender patients.

More than 100 hospital staff and health care providers attended the first training last week. A similar training will be held in Northampton in July.

“LGBT patients, particularly those who are transgender, face unique challenges when accessing health care,” said AG Healey. “These training sessions will help equip hospital staff and providers with best practices for treating LGBT patients from the moment they enter the door. Our goal is equal access for all patients regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they seek care. We thank the Fenway Institute for all of its work and the Massachusetts Hospital Association for its generous support of this initiative.”

“Too often, providers lack the knowledge and training needed to give LGBT patients the sensitive and comprehensive care they deserve,” said Harvey Makadon, M.D., Director of The National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute and keynote speaker at the training. “Last week’s meeting will fill some of the gaps of this knowledge deficit that will help them provide culturally competent care for their LGBTQ patients.”

“MHA and its member hospitals have been strong and steadfast supporters of LGBT rights, and MHA was one of the initial supporters of the transgender rights bill now working its way through the state legislature,” said Lynn Nicholas, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Hospital Association. “These trainings will help ensure all patients feel comfortable and supported seeking healthcare in Massachusetts.”

The trainings provide information about the unique challenges and barriers faced by LGBT patients in accessing health care. Research by the Fenway Institute, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, found that 20 percent of transgender patients delayed or deferred needed medical care out of fear of how they would be treated. Twenty-nine percent reported having to teach their health care provider about transgender health issues.

The goal of the trainings is to ensure that hospital staff and other health care providers have the knowledge necessary to develop internal intake and admission procedures, data collection policies and clinical care principles that support culturally competent care. Additionally, all attendees receive training materials to be used for staff-specific trainings at their institutions.

In addition to these efforts, AG Healey’s Office will also provide guidance on civil rights and health care related issues at the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth (BAGLY) Youth and Family Summit on July 9, which is expected to include more than 100 young people and parents.

The AG’s Office will also hold community action hours and an information session on Tuesday, July 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fenway Health. Staff from the AG’s Office will discuss the services provided by the office, transgender rights and health-related work, and self-advocacy tips.

The AG’s Office previously held community action hours at the AIDS Action Committee in October 2015 and gave a presentation on civil rights and health care issues at First Event, a multi-day transgender conference, in January.

Last June, AG Healey adopted a policy to protect transgender and gender non-conforming individuals working for or interacting with the Office.

AG Healey has worked closely with advocates to garner support for a bill that would protect transgender people from discrimination in public places. In October, AG Healey testified in support of the legislation and submitted a letter advocating for its passage. That bill has now passed in both the House and Senate.

In March, the AG’s Office launched the #EveryoneWelcome social media campaign, featuring short video messages from celebrity allies of the transgender community and families from across Massachusetts. The office hosted a roundtable discussion with transgender youth and their families. In addition, a total of 70 businesses joined the AG’s Office in a letter urging the Legislature to take a favorable vote on legislation.

[From a News Release]

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1 Comment on "AG Healey’s Office Partners with Medical Community to Improve Care for LGBT Patients"

  1. Good for Maura. I’m sorry I missed her award at the Women’s Dinner Party at Fenway Health.
    This is June and in Massachusetts that means PRIDE parades and parties. The month commemorates more than the ongoing, worldwide struggle for human rights and it’s more than a celebration of the civil rights passed into law in parts of America.
    PRIDE is what we feel about ourselves, each other, the people we love and those who love us. I have a PRIDE story this year that swells my heart until it aches that I want to share with you.
    A little over 30 years ago my friend Ken Mayer, an infectious disease physician and researcher, pulled me aside at a party and asked if I would consider leaving my work with the YWCAs and Bay State Skills Corporation. He was volunteering a few afternoons a week at this tiny LGBT health center, not much more than an STD clinic with a few other services in Boston’s Fenway district, in addition to his full time work at Brown University. He had started researching this worrisome disease that seemed to be spreading among gay men and was afraid the community’s little health center might soon disappear without someone who could manage well. I had taken some lumps over the previous twelve years for organizing the LGBT community in the Carolinas, lost a fellowship job in graduate school and was asked to leave because I was a lesbian. So I had lots of reasons to say no, except that he explained a quarter of our community would likely die with the exponential explosions of infectious fatalities that seemed to occur within 9 weeks to 18 months of diagnosis.
    That was the start of my relationship with Fenway Health, the grubbiest little STD clinic that grew into national recognition in the war on AIDS. Determined to grow every aspect of the health center and to keep services for the entire LGBT community, we enabled a community forced from the darkness of our closets to secure the first medical facility in the nation and perhaps the world dedicated to LGBT care as well as to caring for others. We didn’t do that alone, but with lots of assistance from those who loved us and even those who finally figured out we probably weren’t so bad after all. Twenty years after opening those doors, the facility, once again bulging at the seams from growth, was used as the down payment for the ten-story glass tower that is Fenway Health today.
    This past week at the Fenway Health Board of Visitors meeting, the CEO, Steve Boswell, MD, told us the following remarkable facts:
    Fenway Health now has over 30,000 patients with more than 150,000 visits annually and is the largest of the 20+ health centers in Boston, serving the LGBT community from throughout New England as well as the neighborhoods nearby.
    The Fenway Health Institute (which used to be our Research Department) is still headed by Dr. Ken Mayer and now internationally recognized for the contributions made to slowing the epidemic, including PREP prevention. They are pioneering a new quarterly injection similar to the daily PREP that will keep those who are HIV negative from getting HIV. This has incredible implications for halting the domestic violence, particularly toward women throughout the world associated with disease transmission. Thank you, Kenny, and the entire team.
    Our little alternative insemination project to help lesbian women make their own babies has now grown, along with other women’s health services, into a full fledged family practice with OB/GYN and Fenway Health has delivered over 100 babies. We have come a long way from the arguments about adding pediatrics thirty years ago.
    Our two-person Mental Health shop that grew to include addictions (I still have the scars from that fight, too) now has the largest number of visits of all the services at Fenway Health including the Dental, Ophthalmology and other specialized services. We have just received the first designation as a PRIME medical care facility. Fenway Health Institute’s National LGBT Education services are being invited to train many others providers in learning about clinical care of the LGBTQ community. The on-site Pharmacy is always bustling.
    Over the past few years we brought back to Fenway Health the services spun out due to the cost of managing the epidemic and re-emerged with the Aids Action Committee and their social services. Our community, now respected for clinical professionalism and heroism in the epidemic, brought back into the fold the services for our youth that had morphed over time into the Sydney Borum Jr. Health Center. Thirty years ago it was a volunteer Street Youth HIV prevention initiative and a potential hot potato with false fears of gays “recruiting youth”. Our friends at Children’s Hospital, Cambridge Somerville and later JRI Health agreed to nurture and grow the LGBTQ youth programs.

    Fenway Health’s budget is over $100 Million annually and that pays for more than 800 jobs.

    And finally but not lastly, Fenway Health now provides health and medical care for over 1,000 transgender patients. It’s fitting for her office to offer assistance next month and I hope people who need assistance will take advantage of that.

    PRIDE…I have no other words to describe my gratitude for every person that has contributed, from holding the hand of someone sick to birthing our young and caring for our elders and each other. PRIDE. That’s what we have together- time to get out and celebrate us! Time to celebrate our gains medically, legally, spiritually and politically.

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