Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health has created a program dedicated to caring for Philadelphia’s aging LGBTQIA+ community.
The “Pride at the Jefferson Center for Healthy Aging” program is the first of its kind, combining clinical care and research efforts to create a primary care home for LGBTQIA+ older adults. The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and the + holds space for the expanding and new understanding of different parts of the diverse gender and sexual identities.
“Jefferson is proud to be at the forefront of delivering inclusive, compassionate primary and gender-affirming care for LGBTQIA+ older individuals,” said Baligh Yehia, M.D., president of Jefferson Health, in a statement. “Inclusivity is about feeling welcomed, valued and respected, no matter where you are from or who you are. Putting people first is a core value at Jefferson Health, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer these critical services to the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Pride at the Jefferson Center for Healthy Aging combines best practices in LGBTQIA+ inclusive, geriatrics-informed primary care with advanced care needed by many members of these communities, including gender-affirming care, HIV care, and sensitive advance care planning.
As part of these efforts, clinicians in the practice receive ongoing training from SageCare, a training organization specializing in LGBTQIA+ cultural humility for older adults. Jefferson says that faculty research efforts at the center have yielded paradigm-shifting educational materials for medical trainees that have been presented locally and nationally. Current research is aiding the development of a toolkit that can allow clinical settings outside Jefferson Health to replicate Pride’s clinical program.
“Today’s LGBTQIA+ older adults have witnessed monumental changes in the world—politically, socially and medically. With this novel program, we have a unique opportunity to recognize the challenges members of these communities have faced and take their unique needs into account. For too long, many LGBTQIA+ older adults have felt the need to hide their identities in healthcare. They have expected or even experienced discrimination in clinical settings. With Pride, we have created a safe space that empowers them, offering affirming healthcare and a community safe haven,” said Michael Danielewicz, M.D., director of Pride at the Jefferson Center for Healthy Aging, in a statement.
Older LGBTQIA+ communities experienced significant discrimination and loss over their histories; this proved especially true during the AIDS crisis. Danielewicz said that many of his patients with and without HIV faced a loss of their community and support system while experiencing exclusion from healthcare settings, which has created a lasting distrust of healthcare.
“The program’s goal is to create a setting that supports these individuals in a way that they haven’t experienced and to help them build trust in healthcare while embracing their identities,” Danielewicz added.