Family First Health to participate in LGBT collaborative to “transform care”
How a person self identifies when it comes to sexual orientation or gender identity plays an important role in life. But imagine going to your medical provider and never being asked those things about your life.
How can a provider do the best for their patients if they don’t know who they are? How comfortable would you be with forms that ask about your mother and father’s medical histories when you in fact have two mothers?
Family First Health wants to change that. The community health center is one of 10 in the nation chosen to participate in a year-long learning collaborative with the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Centers for Disease Control designed to “Transform Primary Care for LGBT People.”
“Until we ask them their sexual orientation and gender identity along with all of the other questions we ask in a medical visit, we can’t give them that quality care,” said Karen McCraw, director of social services.
The most recent statistics showed that 2.7 percent of Pennsylvania’s population is LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), but many believe the number is underreported since most people aren’t asking.
Family First Health will start with one provider in Hanover – Jennifer Fernandes. The goal is to then expand the work to the entire site, and then Family First Health’s other four sites.
Staff will start small with just asking Fernandes’ patients about their sexual orientation and gender identity and making it a part of their charts.
The end goal is better care. How can staff at any point in your visit be better equipped to meet your needs? And how does Family First Health’s paperwork and processes best reflect the work in a more inclusive way? How do we best take care of the health of LGBT people, and how do we track and measure our outcomes?
Fernandes will do national training every other week that she can bring back and teach in house.
Signs will also be going up in provider’s’ rooms with the phrase “Do ask, do tell,” letting patients know that we want to talk and have created a safe space in which to do so.
Why does it matter? Here are some facts from HealthyPeople.gov:
LGBT youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide.
LGBT youth are more likely to be homeless.
Lesbians are less likely to get preventive services for cancer.
Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other STDs, especially among communities of color.
Lesbians and bisexual females are more likely to be overweight or obese
Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STDs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide and are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual or LGBT individuals.
Elderly LGBT individuals face additional barriers to health because of isolation and a lack of social services and culturally competent providers.
LGBT populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use.
Kate Harmon, marketing and outreach coordinator
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About Family First Health
Founded in 1970, York Health Corporation, now Family First Health, is a non-profit, federally qualified health center dedicated to providing a broad range of primary health, dental care and social services at its sites on South George Street in York, Hannah Penn Middle School, Lewisberry, Hanover and Gettysburg. As a Federally Qualified Health Center, Family First Health offers a reduced fee program for the uninsured and accepts most other health insurances. For more information regarding the programs and services offered through Family First Health, please visit the website at www.familyfirsthealth.org. Se habla español.