By: The Seattle Lesbian—
Garden State Equality (GSE) is launching a program to map out where the LGBT-friendly health service providers are in New Jersey—and then plan to expand that map.
With Map + Expand LGBT Health Services in New Jersey, or the shorter form Map + Expand, GSE and community partners will undertake a statewide census of providers that are both clinically competent (those that provide care that is specific to LGBT people, such as endocrinologists that work with transgender people) and culturally competent (those that treat LGBT people with the most respect).
GSE and its partners will build a brain trust with the providers and other community partners, and that brain trust will then determine solutions for expanding the amount and geographic reach of clinically and culturally competent providers. [pullquote]GSE and its partners will build a brain trust with the providers and other community partners, and that brain trust will then determine solutions for expanding the amount and geographic reach of clinically and culturally competent providers.[/pullquote]
Community members can take part in this project by using the hashtag #mapandexpand, or filling out a simple form on mapandexpand.com. People can tell their stories about experiences with health services – positive or negative – and help GSE and partners identify areas of promise and concern.
“This is the cutting edge of LGBT equality,” said GSE Executive Director Andrea Bowen.
“LGBT people need doctors, therapists, and other direct services like anybody else,” continued Bowen. “Our health needs are an everyday part of our lives – and we’re not equal until we can be sure that when we go to a provider, that professional is sure to say the right things to us, ask the right questions, and provide us the comfort and care we need.”
Aida Rivera, Health Organizer for New Jersey Citizen Action, said: “We’ve worked hard with GSE and many organizations across NJ to connect our fellow New Jerseyans to coverage under the ACA. But coverage alone is not enough. We need to ensure those who signed up have access to quality and culturally competent care that does not discriminate.”
Dr. Chris Kirk, Director of Mission Development for Atlantic Health System, said: “LGBT care shouldn’t be isolated to just specialty care. Ensuring that quality, accessible and compassionate care is available to all populations is a key to eliminating health disparities and improving population health. Map + Expand will help ensure that LGBT care is an integral part of health systems in New Jersey in the future.” [pullquote]Community members can take part in this project by using the hashtag #mapandexpand, or filling out a simple form on mapandexpand.com.[/pullquote]
Rev. Janyce Jackson Jones, Executive Director of the Newark LGBTQ Community Center and Co-Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church NewArk, said: “Ensuring that all community members have access to clinically and culturally competent care is one of the greatest civil rights issues. This is one of the greatest tasks we could take on as a social justice movement.”
Dr. Howard Grossman, one of the most highly respected providers of LGBT clinically and culturally competent care in New Jersey, said: “New Jersey has always been home to a large community of LGBT people, but in the last decade the numbers have grown tremendously. People feel safer moving out of big cities and looking for space and quality of life for themselves and their growing families in New Jersey, in much the same way that generations of people have come here. What has not followed this migration is health care. We need to change that and make New Jersey a leader in providing the best health care to LGBT communities.”
Martha Chavis of Camden Area Health Education Center said: “In a few years, after this project has been churning at full speed, you won’t need some special list of LGBT-friendly providers. All providers will be LGBT friendly.”
Community partners on the Map + Expand project include Atlantic Health System, New Jersey Citizen Action, the Newark LGBTQ Community Center, Lambda Legal, Professor Suzanne Kim of Rutgers University School of Law-Newark, and Camden Area Health Education Center (Camden AHEC).
GSE is New Jersey’s statewide civil rights advocacy organization for the LGBT community.