5 Providers Changing LGBT Health Care

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For more than 40 years, June has been the month for celebration and commemoration, all in the name of pride. In the U.S., Pride Month honors the Stonewall riots, a major historical milestone in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and intersex (LGBT, LGBTQ, or LGBTQI) rights movement. Parades, parties, memorials, and more pay tribute to members of the LGBT community who have had a significant impact on social change and to those continuing to fight for equality.

In honor of Pride 2016, we’re shining a spotlight on five One Medical providers helping to improve LGBT health care and ensure that all people receive the compassionate, competent care they deserve.

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Patrick Portiz

Patrick Portiz, San Francisco doctor

What made you want to get into LGBT care?

As a physician and a patient, I have seen firsthand the difficulties facing the LGBT community. I have often felt that my previous doctors were uncomfortable speaking to me about my sexual health. There were instances prior to becoming a physician when I felt I had to apologize to my doctor for bringing up my social and sexual questions. I often left embarrassed and felt that my concerns were just swept under the rug, without getting a resolution.

Now, as a family physician, I am open to all my patients leaving no stone unturned, asking their medical, social, psychological, and sexual health questions, and helping to make them feel empowered as advocates for their health.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the field since you started?

I am quite happy to see HIV becoming more of a chronic disease than a death sentence, but there is definitely still more work to be done in underserved communities.

What’s a song that makes you feel proud/your pride anthem?

I usually have seasonal anthems. Seeing Sia at Coachella this year, I just can’t get her Bird Set Free song out of my head — it makes me want to sing off key all the time!

Bruce Olmscheid

Bruce Olmscheid

Bruce Olmscheid, Beverly Hills doctor

What made you want to get into LGBT care?

I like taking care of my community. The LGBT community has been a part of my life since I started medical school in Minneapolis in 1983. When I moved to New York City in 1992, it was only natural that I would become part of the community of doctors caring for those who were dying of AIDS.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the field since you started?

LGBT has become mainstream, at least in the large cities like New York, San Francisco, and LA.  It’s easy to take that for granted, but we shouldn’t. And now of course, people with HIV live with it. And we can prevent it. And it’s so cool that transgender people are now able to come out and be proud. And I get to care for them – that is an honor and a privilege!

What’s a song that makes you feel proud/your pride anthem? 

I Am What I Am by Gloria Gaynor.


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Victoria Albina

Victoria Albina, Washington DC nurse practitioner

What made you want to get into LGBT care?

As a young queer person, I found it frustrating and invalidating to go to providers who just didn’t get it; I would tell them that I only had female partners at that time, and they would still insist on birth control. I had a lot of experiences that weren’t awesome and didn’t make me feel like I was being held in a community. So it’s really important for me to create a safe space for everyone — that includes all LGBTQI mammals! I want anyone to be able to come to me, whether they’re lesbian or queer, monogamous, polyamourous — whatever — and know that they’re not going to get any judgment or shame or guilt. I want folks to feel they can ask for what they need, get those needs met, whatever that means, and know that they’ll get 0.0 assumptions and just feel safe in an open space of big-hearted love.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the field since you started?

Since I came out to my sister in the early ’90s, there have been amazing social changes. LGBTQI people are now so much more accepted in mainstream media and in society overall, and providers are learning to take care of folks and not make assumptions or think they know what a person needs just because they’re gay. There’s also a greater openness and the stigma is being reduced, but at the same time, it’s incumbent as providers and as people in the world that we remember that just because there’s more justice for people in city centers like New York and San Francisco, that doesn’t mean those people aren’t being rejected by their families in Kansas or Rhode Island, or even in Chelsea. Overall, people are having an easier time, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s still hard out there for a queer.

What’s a song that makes you feel proud/your pride anthem?

Mi Voz Renacerá by Celeste Carballo.

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Nasser Mohamed

Nasser Mohamed, San Francisco doctor

What made you want to get into LGBT care?

The LGBT population has historically been an underserved population medically and otherwise. We have come a long way over the years with much more remaining potential for improvement and inclusion.

The interaction with the health care system is just one dimension of life that everyone is bound to overlap with at some point. Unfortunately, most LGBT individuals have learned to always fight and take more steps to get what is otherwise a basic right and need. Since I was a medical intern, I chose to get involved with LGBT care to fight that battle for my patients. I’m doing it to offer a completely equivalent, high quality care to my patients without them having to fear or worry about how their gender or who they love would affect their access to care.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the field since you started?

Both the nature of and the level of  access to LGBT care has been somewhat different in each state. However, I have to say that the most hopeful change is the introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment that has the potential of reducing the risk of HIV transmission. The level of awareness on this specific topic has changed drastically over the last three years in my experience.

What’s a song that makes you feel proud/your pride anthem?

Ah why do I have to pick one?! I would go for People Like Us by Kelly Clarkson.

Amy Stulman

Amy Stulman

Amy Stulman, Washington DC nurse practitioner

What made you want to get into LGBT care?

As a gay person myself, I understand the personal importance of having a provider who is willing to hear my perspective and understands the dynamics of the LGBT community. I really enjoy working with LGBT patients because I feel they’re still very underserved and it’s rewarding to offer them care. Some of them have never been able to disclose their sexuality to a provider ever.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the field since you started?

I’d have to say PrEP. We have a huge new tool for HIV prevention and it’s increasingly becoming the standard of care in a city like D.C. where we have a high rate of HIV infection. There’s been a huge influx of HIV-negative individuals who are interested in taking Truvada for HIV prevention.

What’s a song that makes you feel proud/your pride anthem?

Justin Timberlake’s new song, Can’t Stop the Feeling. I feel like that’s a good pride anthem! 

 

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

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