Many individuals in the LGBTQ+ community face disparities in the healthcare system that prevent them from seeking regular care.
“It’s a very difficult issue to address,” said Josh Thompson, MD, a family medicine physician at the University of Minnesota Physicians (M Physicians) Mill City Clinic. “It starts even before patients reach our health system, and it’s keeping them from getting in the door.”
To those patients who do make it into clinics and hospitals, being welcoming, affirming and providing high-quality care is pivotal in building trust between patients and providers.
“That first point of contact with the front desk staff is crucial,” Dr. Thompson said. “Greetings should be inclusive––It's basic politeness to ask for and use patients' preferred names and pronouns.”
Dr. Thompson stressed that LGBTQ+ communities should not be viewed as a monolith when it comes to their healthcare needs.
“Being LGBTQ+ is only one facet of these patients' identities and for some, may not even be their most important identity, either personally or medically. They are individuals, and their preventive health needs should be just that—individualized,” Dr. Thompson said. “Care really depends on the person sitting across from you and their specific circumstances. Our job is to help that person feel comfortable sharing the details necessary to guide that care.”
At the Mill City Clinic, everyone is on board with creating a culture of inclusivity.
“Our medical staff, rooming staff, nurses, everyone is on the same page. That’s the biggest thing,” Dr. Thompson said.
It’s a full team effort at the Mill City Clinic––making sure that patients receive the highest quality care no matter who is coming in for it.
“That’s our whole deal. Every person that comes in here is going to get personalized medical care,” Dr. Thompson said. “Although LGBTQ+ populations have unique health needs that providers should be aware of, it comes down to that––treat the unique person in front of you.”