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first LGBT clinic opens with
Cleveland--MetroHealth launched its Pride Clinic with a reception on March 28, one week before the facility opened with the motto, “We believe it’s as important to respect lives as it is to save them.”
The reception brought around 100 people to Bounce to hear a brief program talking about the clinic, its genesis and purpose. Among the speakers were heavy hitters like John F. Sideras, the president and CEO of MetroHealth, Dr. Ben Brouhard, its chief medical officer, Dr. E. Harry Walker, director of the MetroHealth Center for Community Health, and Dr. Holly B. Perzy, director of MetroHealth’s internal medicine and pediatrics department.
Also speaking was Joe Santiago, Cleveland’s first openly gay councilor. His Ward 14 contains MetroHealth’s main campus on West 25th Street.
Drs. Doug Van Auken and Henry Ng, the clinic’s organizers, closed out the program, talking about the debt owed to the hospital system’s gay-straight alliance for championing the cause, and to the hospital’s administration for being receptive to the idea, the first of its kind in Ohio.
Perzy is in charge of the administration of the clinic, which is open each Wednesday at the Thomas McCafferty Health Center at Lorain Ave. and West 41st Street. Ng and Van Auken, along with Dr. Heather Mullen, provide the medical services, while registered nurse Mary Sanabria and licensed social worker Owen Groze provide specialty and support services.
Appointments to the clinic are available by calling 216-6513499. Underwritten by Cuyahoga County, the facility can serve the needs of financially disadvantaged LGBT people.
Ng ran a “needs assessment” last summer to determine what services the community needed, making sure to hit the Cleveland LGBT Pride Festival and the Cleveland LGBT Center to get a large sampling of responses,.
The Pride Clinic joins other programs run by MetroHealth to target underserved minorities, including a satellite office in Asia Plaza and its Hispanic Initiative.
One issue that Ng brought up both in his speech and in previous interviews was the concern that most medical students only have a couple of hours focusing on the needs of LGBT patients.
“The real improvements will be going on at the medical student and resident level,” Perzy said in January. “It might be things as simple as using the correct pronouns with transgender patients.”
It could also encompass issues like the increased risk of certain types of cancer for lesbians, either because of nulliparity--not having had children--or because they visit gynecologists less frequently on average than their heterosexual counterparts.
“People who can pass for straight, mostly white men, have the resources and access to better care,” said Ng. “But others within the LGBT community, especially people of color, women, and transgender people, have fewer resources and less access and more needs.”
“Because of that, LGBT people, as a group, have not met the standard of good care. The goal of the clinic is to provide that,” Ng said.
The Pride Clinic is located inside the Thomas McCafferty Health Center, 4242 Lorain Ave. and can be reached at 216-6513499.
Eric Resnick contributed to this report.