Written by Donald A. Promnitz
In order to promote a more diverse and welcoming environment, Community Medical Centers has been making extended efforts to stress inclusivity for LGBTQ staff and patients.
This has meant training and education for the entire staff on communication, one of the most important aspects and biggest obstacles in LGBTQ treatment, according to Carla Milton, senior vice president of human resources for Community Medical Centers. Certain sensitivities and worries of offense can often lead to uncomfortable conversations with patients — a discomfort that isn’t necessary.
“Some people identify as a different gender as what was assigned at birth,” Milton said. “So that would be appropriate information because we want to ensure that we document the information correctly so that we can provide the appropriate care for our patient.”
In addition to documentation, there is also a concern for bedside manner. For example, some patients may identify with a different name more suited to the gender they identify by. This can lead to confusion in social interaction, while also playing back into documentation issues. Their goal is thus to encourage providers to create an environment that’s both comfortable and medically efficient.
“Instead of saying, ‘what is your preferred name?” Just ask, ‘what is your name?’ Milton said. “Because if it’s different from their [birth] record, it’s okay to verify a legal name, but still continue to use the name the patient has identified.”
Also downtown, UCSF Fresno and Common Space, a downtown nonprofit, have teamed together to bring the Mobile Health and Learning (HeaL) clinic to the LGBTQ community. A part of UCSF Fresno, HeaL was set up to provide not only treatment to underserved communities in the Valley, but also education for medical providers.
The HeaL LGBTQ clinic offers urgent care, HIV screening, diabetes and hypertension screening, as well as legal and health insurance assistance. Hormone replacement therapy and training for self-administered injections are also made available. Justin Kamimoto, executive director for Common Space, said that planning for this mobile clinic has been going on since last year. He emphasized the importance of education for providers.
“We’ve seen the need firsthand and want to address it firsthand,” Kamimoto said about health concerns among LGBTQ people. “But then we also want to help with the education of future medical professionals and health care providers to be more culturally sensitive and aware of the issues that are going on.”
According to Kamimoto, another HeaL LGBTQ clinic is scheduled for October at Common Space.
Further sponsorships for HeaL include anthem Blue Cross, the Central Valley Community Foundation, Trans-e-motion and American Ambulance.