When first funded in 2016, the Pride Clinic (as it was known then) was launched with one outpatient therapist seeing patients a couple of hours each week. With research demonstrating members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community do not typically seek out healthcare services, the team who submitted the grant proposal to the Albert Einstein Society to fund the clinic felt strongly that the old saying “if you build it, they will come” would eventually prevail.
The first grant from the Albert Einstein Society provided support to get the program off the ground. The addition of Libby Parker, MSS, LSW, was the catalyst needed to propel the program forward. Today, what was originally an idea to offer an often disenfranchised community a safe and comfortable place to receive needed healthcare has grown and expanded. The Pride Program at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia is not only attracting patients, but it is also attracting national attention from groups who want to help ensure Einstein is able to serve its mission and expand the services offered to the LGBTQ+ community.
The society again stepped forward and provided additional funding to the Pride Program to hire a Trans-Patient Navigator to connect trans-identified patients to healthcare professionals and to community support services. A second grant from the CBS Corporation-affiliated EcoMedia expands the counseling and mental health services offered at Einstein.
Filling the Healthcare and Health Education Void
“There’s a tremendous need for healthcare services geared to the LGBTQ+ community, so it’s wonderful to be able to expand our services, thanks to the generous grants from the Albert Einstein Society and EcoMedia,” says David Jaspan, DO, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for Einstein Healthcare Network and one of the original Albert Einstein Society grant requesters.
Seeking to fill the healthcare and health education void that influences the health and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community, the Pride Program also offers comprehensive training and education throughout the network to ensure competent care is offered across all settings. Specialized components of the Pride Program seek to create a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to access physical, social and emotional care.
Support for this population is needed and being sought. As patient Robyn Ryan explains, “In the transgender community, too many of us have our guard up…the strongest thing we are looking for as transgender people are allies. We don’t have that support on the outside and that is why I came to the Pride Clinic.”
A Safe, Respectful and Confidential Setting
Research shows that members of the LGBTQ+ community typically do not seek out medical services due to concerns about safety, comfort and acceptance. The Pride Program offers a safe, respectful and confidential setting where patients receive culturally competent care. The program also serves as a gateway to the comprehensive scope of healthcare services offered by Einstein Healthcare Network.
“We look at LGBTQ health as a discipline because of oppression and the experience of how that impacts health access,” explains Parker. “So often, like any other marginalized community, LBGTQ folks are at greater risk for adverse health outcomes because they don’t have the external support their straight counterparts do.”
According to Jaspan, the Pride Program is here to stay at Einstein and will only continue to grow as new funding opportunities are identified. “Our vision is that Pride is more than just a program. Pride should be and will be in every department and every division of the network.”