Across the country during the month of June, LGBT communities and their allies are celebrating the achievements of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals, and championing equal rights in the face of discrimination. Pride Month is a celebration of the remarkable contributions members of the LGBT community have made to our society and culture, but it is also a time to reflect on the continuous struggle endured by this community against prejudice, intolerance, and hate.
In Colorado, LGBT advocate groups like The Center have a mission: “To engage empower, enrich, and advance the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community of Colorado by ensuring that every member of the LGBT community has access to the programs and resources they need to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.” Community Health Centers (CHCs) in Colorado are proud to support and care for LGBT patients and communities, as they too have a mission: to provide the highest quality of primary care services to Colorado’s most underserved and vulnerable populations.
CHCs are nonprofit, community-based, integrated primary care centers that provide medical, dental, and behavioral health services to medically underserved communities in urban, rural, and frontier areas. Like other minority underserved communities, LGBT people experience many health disparities and barriers to health care. CHCs in Colorado and across the U.S. provide individualized care to LGBT patients, and some CHCs are going above and beyond by offering specialized services to LGBT clients, and targeting the LGBT community with strategic outreach efforts.
Denver Health, for example, has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Health Care Equity” for the second year in a row by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation. This honor is given to health care facilities that meet LGBT-inclusive standards that are part of the HRC Foundation’s Health Care Equality Index, an annual survey of health care institutions in the U.S. that are most inclusive and specialized towards treating LGBT patients. At Denver Health, an LGBT Advisory Committee promotes and supports the organization’s commitment to providing the best care possible to its LGBT patients. Read more about specialized services Denver Health offers to its LGBT clients here.
Clinica Family Health, serving Adams, Boulder, and Broomfield counties, is also a great CHC advocate for LGBT health care. In August of 2015, Clinica was awarded a grant to support Emily Vellano, one of Clinica’s behavioral health professionals, to enroll in the prestigious George Washington University LGBT Health, Policy & Practice Graduate Certificate Program. This Program teaches strategies for addressing LGBT health issues and reducing disparities. For her Capstone Project, Ms. Vellano plans to develop a series of trainings promoting LGBT inclusion and sensitivity at all levels of Clinica’s organization to ensure that LGBT patients receive appropriate preventive, medical, dental, and behavioral health care. She is especially interested in applying her education and skillset to increasing awareness about LGBT issues in the Latino community.
The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) has published a brochure for educating CHCs on how to better address the needs of LGBT health center patients. Additionally, there are now free trainings and resources available to health centers to help them improve the health care of their LGBT patients. For more information, visit the National LGBT Health Education Center website at www.lgbthealtheducation.org or call 617-927-6354.
Are you interested in a mission driven career that helps make a difference in patients’ lives? Check out the Mission Driven Careers Job Board or the CHAMPS Job Opportunity Bank for more information about rewarding careers with a Colorado CHC. To learn more about Colorado’s CHCs and other great work they are doing, visit CCHN’s website.