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6 providers changing LGBTQ health care

Jun 12, 2018
By Michelle Konstantinovsky
pride

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 LGBTQ community who have had a significant impact on social change and to those continuing to fight for equality.

In honor of Pride 2018, we’re shining a spotlight on six One Medical providers helping to improve LGBTQ health care and ensure that all people receive the compassionate, competent care they deserve.

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Patrick Portiz

Patrick Portiz, West Hollywood doctor

What made you want to get into LGBTQ care?

As a physician and a patient, I have seen firsthand the difficulties facing the LGBTQ 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?

“Freedom” by George Michael — a 90’s gay teen’s dream music video: super models, cute guys, and awesome song!

Bruce Olmscheid

Bruce Olmscheid

Bruce Olmscheid, Beverly Hills doctor

What made you want to get into LGBTQ care?

I like taking care of my community. The LGBTQ 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?

LGBTQ 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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Nasser Mohamed

Nasser Mohamed, San Francisco doctor

What made you want to get into LGBTQ care?

The LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ community. I really enjoy working with LGBTQ 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?

I’m going to go Janelle Monae’s “Pynk,” especially since she came out as pansexual this year and there are vulva pants in the music video.

Sarah Dobro, San Francisco doctor

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Sarah Dobro

What made you want to get into LGBTQ care?

I’ve had so many friends and LGBTQ patients who feel marginalized and rejected by the healthcare system who don’t feel comfortable being honest with their healthcare providers. I strive to provide a safe space for my patients to be themselves. As a primary care provider, I advocate strongly for them to receive the care they need and deserve.

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

I’m really excited to see the growth of transgender health as a field. This is a particularly vulnerable patient population, so I am delighted to see the health care system providing more recognition, support and attention to the needs of trans patients. I believe that One Medical is a leader in this arena — we work hard to help our patients feel at ease in our offices by treating them with dignity, compassion, and respect.

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

“Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent (the original cast soundtrack).

Daniel Marcovici, New York doctor

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Dan Marcovici

What made you want to get into LGBTQ care?

I focus on LGBT care because I want to be a resource for my own community. I’d been on the patient side of things before and remember seeing physicians get uncomfortable trying to find the right language to use when discussing my social history and health risks when I’d them that I was gay. I use those experiences and aim to make my patients feel comfortable and welcomed without being bogged down in jargon. Overall, I want them to know that this is a judgement-free space.

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

The biggest change I’ve seen has been the increasing acceptance of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the effects of that. I remember first encountering it in residency and, at the time, most patients were resistant to starting it. Now, patients are coming in specifically to start it. It’s been a major step forward in HIV prevention and I’m happy to be a resource for patients to help them on this step to improve their health. At the same time, I’ve been finding increasing resistance from patients about condom use as they feel completely protected by using Truvada, and there seems to be a growing public acceptance that if both partners are on PrEP that the sex is completely safe. As a result, I’m seeing far more cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis than I ever did in residency, and it’s becoming an increasing challenge to keep patients focused on protecting themselves from the risk of drug-resistant STIs.

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

Hands down, it would be “Proud” by Heather Small. That’s been my go-to Pride booster since it came out in 2000, and it still puts a smile on my face whenever I hear it!

Michelle Konstantinovsky

Michelle Konstantinovsky is an experienced writer, regularly producing content on a variety of wellness-oriented topics ranging from breaking health news to fitness and nutrition. Michelle has a master’s degree from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and has written extensively on health and body image for outlets like O: The Oprah Magazine, Slate, SPIN.com, xoJane.com, and The Huffington Post. To read more of her work, visit www.michellekmedia.com.

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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