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Choices: A Safe Haven for the LGBTQ Community

LGBTQ ribbon in hand

Choices Women’s Medical Center has been serving Queens for over 46 years. Gynecology services have been available to all residents. Our doctors and staff have become increasingly aware of the medical requirements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. At our facility, members of the community can find a gynecologist who can offer prenatal care, nutrition counseling, behavioral health support, primary care and psychotherapy.

Finding an LGBTQ-friendly doctor is important because of the need to discuss specific physical, emotional, and behavioral medical issues and concerns. So, how does one go about finding such a physician? In fact, there are more resources than ever before to locate LGBT-friendly health care providers.

If you’re looking for specific doctors, here are some resources you can use:

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality: It is the largest and oldest association of LGBT healthcare professionals. The organization, founded in 1981, offers an online provider directory. Listed providers must be Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) members and dedicated to LGBTQ health needs, and include primary care physicians, specialists, and therapists.

The website also includes information on common health issues and resources related to transgender health. Webinars, surveys, and studies are also available to healthcare providers and include a multi-part cultural series to help doctors and other providers address patients’ care needs.

Insurance Providers: Insurers and HMOs are increasingly accommodating patients who seek providers that focus on sexual orientation and gender-identity-specific care. These healthcare professionals may be listed in coverage networks, or one can call an insurer to obtain information.

Word-of-Mouth Referrals: Asking a person you know (a friend, family member, or coworker), getting a recommendation from a local LGBT organization, or calling doctors’ offices or OB/GYN clinics are great ways to inquire about trusted providers in the community.

QSpaces: An app enabling users to search for LGBTQ healthcare providers and rate and review them. Created by a Pennsylvania couple looking for recommendations via Facebook groups, the product lets people find providers based on competency. Search results can be filtered by location and rating. Providers can add their profiles as well.

female doctor examining xrays on laptop

Is It Important to Tell Your Doctor You’re LGBTQ?

Federally-funded health centers and electronic health software now store information on patients’ identity. A provider may need to know for recordkeeping. Recent trends, based on research, have found there is a discrepancy as to how doctors, nurses, and patients feel about this.

The results of a study were published in June 2017, in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Of providers, about 80% believed patients would be unwilling to disclose their sexual orientation, but just 10% of patients sampled nationally said they’d refuse.

Academic Emergency Medicine research concluded that, of 101 transgender patients, 90% felt their primary doctors should know their identity. Close to 60% felt their sexual orientation should be disclosed to other physicians as well. Nowadays, there are health centers that report such information, either as a requirement or that have the option to.

In 2018, many providers and medical facilities will switch to electronic health records. Those part of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services financial incentive program will have software that can store data on sexual orientation and gender identity. Disclosure will be voluntary.

Likewise, the University of California Davis already employs a data collection program for sexual/gender identity. Yet, obtaining this information at the medical center isn’t always easy—just 10% of patients have reported these details, as of a May 2017 report in The New York Times.

It appears you have the option of disclosing your LGBTQ identity to your doctor. However, it might be in your best interest to do so, especially if visiting an obstetrician or behavioral health center, or going in for STD testing, for example. The more your primary care doctor knows, the better able they are to address your health and wellness needs.

Documenting patient sexual orientation is also useful in emergency departments, where medical records are established for future reference. Plus, patients may be at ease if doctors need to speak with their partner.

LGBTQ bathroom signage

LGBTQ-Friendly Behavioral Health

Choices offers several LGBTQ-specific services to assist patients. These serve as examples of how LGBT friendly clinics can be a safe haven and address specific health concerns.

Behavioral Health Department: At Choices Women’s Medical Center, individual and group counseling is available. Our counselors and psychologists have the expertise to address the concerns and conflicts our clients face. They can help individuals who experience:

  • Trauma/PTSD
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Eating disorders
  • High-risk pregnancies
  • Postpartum depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Long-term illness

Treatment is available based on patients’ age groups; specifically, adults, children 11 to 13, and adolescents 14 to 19 years of age. We also offer psychological testing and evaluation. Treatments may be trauma-focused, cognitive behavioral, dialectical, and mindfulness-based, and can include techniques such as motivational interviewing.

Stress management coaching is also offered to help cope with stress related to personal relationships and life’s demands, further adding value to our women’s behavioral wellness services.

Prenatal Program: A mother’s and developing baby’s health can be monitored throughout pregnancy. We ensure all patients have access to medical services, including routine blood work and sonograms, pain management, and nutritional counseling, plus assignment to a licensed clinical social worker.

Nutritional Counseling: In addition to identifying dietary problems, individuals can receive dietary guidance from professionals with expertise in this area. Patients can feel more open and comfortable with specialized care, and receive assistance with maintaining a well-balanced, varied diet. Therefore, nutritional needs can be met for those with chronic health conditions or who may have eating disorders.

Primary Care: Overall wellness is addressed at Choices for all, including LGBTQ and gender non-conforming patients with unique healthcare needs. Trained to help individuals with a diverse range of lifestyles, our technicians provide a safe environment encouraging people to be honest and comfortable. We can address physical and psychological care, routine medical checkups and screenings, reproductive health, birth control, and more.

Patients also have the benefits of online registration and appointment scheduling, and walk-in and same-day appointments. Most major insurance plans and government programs are accepted, maximizing accessibility. A woman-owned and operated company, Choices has served the New York City area for more than 46 years with a state-of-the-art facility. For patients looking for a queer-friendly gynecologist, STI testing, or many other services, the facility and its practitioners offer compassionate, individualized care.

History of LGBTQ-Friendly Medical Providers

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Primary physicians, specialists, and therapists are more equipped today to assist those in the LGBTQ community. The GLMA includes about 1,000 members, but it represents the interests of tens of thousands of health professionals serving the LGBTQ community. Members include physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, dentists, behavioral health specialists, researchers and academic professionals, and veterinarians.

A multitude of resources let people find “LGBTQ friendly doctors near me.” There are resources for providers, as well. The American Medical Association offers a resource on Creating an LGBTQ-Friendly Practice. Recommendations include creating comforting visual cues, customizing patient intake forms, and meeting standards of practice for care, as well as including a practice in professional listings.

Visit Choices Women’s Medical Center in Queens, NY

Founded in 1971, the medical facility continues its mission to offer the highest-quality medical care to all patients. Gynecology services are readily available in a warm, sensitive, comforting environment, and we offer a women’s behavioral wellness program as well.

Programs available to all, including the LGBTQ community, include behavioral health care and counseling, nutrition, preventative care, HIV/STD testing, and health education in the form of free classes and workshops.

For the highest quality care from LBGT friendly health care providers, book an appointment online or call us at 718-786-5000. We conveniently offer registration information forms online, plus free pregnancy testing without an appointment. Celebrating a diversity of expressions of gender and sexuality, in a sensitive, supportive environment, Choices is here to tend to your physical, emotional, and behavioral health needs and concerns, so book an appointment or visit our Jamaica, Queens facility today.

Sources

  1. http://www.glma.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=939&grandparentID=534&parentID=938&nodeID=1
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28437523
  3. https://www.qspaces.org/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28235242
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/29/health/lgbt-patients-doctors.html
  6. https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2016/03/homosexuality-as-a-mental-disorder-simply-not-backed-up-by-science
  7. https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/creating-lgbtq-friendly-practice

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