The Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) Program for LGBTI Healthhas been helping patients in our community to connect with the right providers and receive the best possible medical care for years. In addition to services for patients in their network, the program provides guidance for LGBTI patients and education and training for providers outside of VUMC’s reach. LGBTI Health Program Manager Del Ray Zimmerman says, “Our job is to help any patient or provider who calls.”
According its Mission statement: "LGBTI patients experience disparities in access to and quality of care, leading to preventable, adverse health outcomes including elevated risk for specific chronic diseases and increased rates of suicide and depression. The Vanderbilt Program for LGBTI Health works to address these disparities, improve the health of LGBTI patients,support education around LGBTI Health, and foster research on the optimal ways to care for LGBTI patients and families."
The program connects patients within their network with specially trained LGBTI providers and "helps ensure outstanding medical care in an atmosphere of compassion and respect." Services include:
- Finding LGBTI-competent providers
- Sexual and reproductive health
- Intersex health and transgender health
- HIV care and PrEP
- Mental health
Additionally, the Trans Buddy Program is the first of its kind in the United States. Program advocates help their LGBTI patients navigate their medical care and improve their overall patient experience, including accessing gender-transition-related care, including cross-gender hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgical procedures.
The LGBTI program also helps patients and providers outside their network. Zimmerman says that they field several calls per week from patients searching LGBTI-competent providers in their area. They also provide information for providers. “Our most common calls are about trans health,” says Zimmerman. “For example, a doctor in a rural area may have a trans patient for the first time, and she’s looking for information from us to better affirm that patient’s identity and provide the best possible care for that patient.”
Zimmerman says the program will also send representatives to those medical practices to provide education and training to their doctors and nurses better serve their LGBTI patients. The program Director guest lectures at medical schools and nursing programs across the country. And their Research Director was invited to the White House under the previous administration to talk specifically about bi-sexual issues.
“Vanderbilt Medical Center is a wonderful place to work as an LGBT employee,” says Zimmerman. He is going to start an employee resource group for all employees who identify as LGBT+ soon. But he provides several examples as to how VUMC policies and personnel already provide a welcoming, affirming environment for all their employees.
For more details on the program and services provided, please visit the website at: https://vanderbilthealth.com/lgbtihealthprogram/
If you would like help in LGBTI-competent providers in the Vanderbilt network and among their affiliates, please call (615) 936-3879 to reach one of their team members.