MetroHealth to launch areas first LGBT clinic
Cleveland--Cuyahoga County residents will soon be able to get health care at a clinic specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people regardless of their ability to pay.
MetroHealth Medical Center, which is run by the county, will offer Pride Clinic a half-day each week at first. The clinic will begin at Thomas McCafferty Health Center at West 41st St. and Lorain Ave. on Cleveland�s west side later this winter.
The clinic was organized by Dr. Henry Ng of the hospital�s department of internal medicine and pediatrics, using data collected on a needs survey circulated at the Cleveland LGBT Center and at the Cleveland Pride festival in June.
Ng and McCafferty medical director Dr. Douglas Van Auken are openly gay and have long been advocates for better LGBT access to health care. The clinic is the first of its kind in the region.
Dr. Holly Perzy, an associate director of community health, is in charge of the project�s administration.
According to Perzy, the McCafferty center will be a pilot for more sites to get Pride clinics later.
Perzy said the hospital administration had no resistance to the clinic, and welcomes it as part of Metro�s mission to serve all communities in the county.
Metro currently operates a clinic at Asia Plaza in Cleveland�s Chinatown which serves people whose primary language is not English and who may be used to different medical traditions. Metro also has what Perzy calls its Hispanic Initiative with similar goals.
Perzy said that the Pride Clinic is an extension of Metro�s commitment to culturally competent care.
�We�re sensitive to the diversity of cultures and populations we serve,� said Perzy.
Ng said he will staff the Pride Clinic initially, and that it will be about both making LGBT patients comfortable and safe, and about improving overall health of the community.
Ng, who also teaches at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, said that prior to his work, medical students had only a couple of hours exposure to the needs of LGBT people.
Ng and Perzy say they believe the biggest benefit of the clinic to the hospital is how it will effect changes in the way new doctors are trained.
�The real improvements,� said Perzy, �will be going on at the medical student and resident level.�
�It might be things as simple as using the correct pronouns with transgender patients,� said Perzy.
Or, as involved, as Ng points out, as being aware that lesbians, due to less frequent OB-GYN care, may be more vulnerable to ovarian cancer than non-lesbians.
Perzy said the clinic resulted from the �sweat equity� of Ng, Van Auken, and from her, and will not require much in terms of new resources to operate.
�[LGBT] people claim they can�t find a good doctor,� said Ng. �and the structure for LGBT care is not [currently] there.�
�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.