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New Hospital Program Addresses LGBT Health Woe

By Amy Zimmer | May 24, 2011 12:59pm

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN —Health officials plan to announce a major new hospital program on Wednesday aimed at getting healthcare professionals to provide better services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers.

The initiative is needed to address the growing health disparities between the LGBT community and other New Yorkers, according to officials.

Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan Aviles will announce the new program with Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and National LGBT Cancer Network Executive Director Liz Margolies at Bellevue Hospital Center, 

They will also debut a training video for healthcare providers, "To Treat Me, You Have to Know Who I Am."

LGBT people have higher rates of tobacco use, alcohol use and STDs, which dramatically increases their risk for such diseases as cancer, according to the video.

Doctors and nurses sometimes fail to handle LGBT people's health woes with respect and sensitivity.

"It's an important to have an open, honest relationship with a patient," Dr. Lisa Reeves said on the video. "So if you do not know what their sexual orientation is or how they identify, that patient is not going to feel safe telling you everything they need to tell you for proper medical care."

One young woman, Caroline, recounts on film what happened when she told her doctor that she is a lesbian: "I remember her face changed very much, her warm tone turned very harsh. It seemed she was rushing me out as quickly as possible."

LGBT people face many obstacles in health care settings, according to the video. One in four transgender people are turned away by health care professionals and 75 percent of lesbians in one poll said they delayed care because of feared discrimination and cost.