Howard Brown Health Center Praises Recommendations In New National Report Calling For Increased Understanding Of LGBT Health Care

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Officials at Howard Brown Health Center have high praise for the federal report that recognizes and calls international attention to the unique and important interdependencies between the Nation’s overall health and the particular health of its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community. Issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the report, titled The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding, is the result of a one‐year ground‐breaking study commissioned by the National Institutes of Health. It presents several recommendations for continued methods for improving health care services and health research for the LBGT communities and urges researchers to proactively engage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in health studies and collect data on these populations to identify and better understand health conditions that affect individuals and families in these communities.

“As HBHC has been doing for years, the Institute of Medicine report urges the nation’s health providers and researchers to actively engage LGBT populations to determine the status of the community’s health and to fully understand what the unique health care needs of LGBT people,” said CEO of Howard Brown Health Center, Jamal Edwards.

Howard Brown Health Center officials contributed to the scientific committee that produced the IOM report, and its innovative THInC protocol for providing transgender sensitive healthcare and hormone therapy is cited as an exemplary model for unique culturally sensitive standards of care. The National Coalition for LGBT Health, of which Howard Brown Health Center is a member, and several of HBHC’s peer organizations across the country contributed to and are recognized in this ground‐breaking report, further confirming the significance of and need for the existing LGBT health centers throughout the country. The IOM report supports HBHC’s long‐standing initiative to collect uniform and informative data about the health needs and disparities of the LGBT community, in order to overcome the historical lack of data necessary for specialists and generalist to develop effective care and treatment models for LGBT people.

Edwards said these efforts are an important part of HBHC’s "Research Visioning Project," which it announced to its staff last week. The project will leverage HBHC’s first‐hand clinical experience in directly caring for the medical and behavioral health of LGBT people to work with local and national researchers to identify the unique health care needs of LGBT people, now and in the future, and set forth a comprehensive, targeted research agenda that will help HBHC to continue developing innovative biomedical and behavioral interventions to improve the quality of health for LGBT people locally and nationally.

HBHC’s Chief Medical Officer Magda Houlberg, M.D., said the IOM report is particularly groundbreaking since it:

  • Recommends collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity on all U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other federally funded health surveys in the same way that race and ethnicity data are collected.
  • Calls for the NIH to create a research training program to support researchers explicitly include sexual and gender minorities in their samples, and
  • Recognizes LGBT as not a single entity, but several distinct groups with special health care access challenges.

Dr. Houlberg added that the report could also lead to more funding opportunities for LGBT research since the study recognizes the importance of research in eliminating LGBT health disparities.

Through its collaborative partnership with other Chicago‐based community health centers, HBHC has been pioneering the use of electronic health records and other health information technology in order to collect and leverage uniform data, to help improve and ensure the consistency and quality of care that LGBT people receive at HBHC and other local access points, where the quality currently varies. “The IOM report validates what we are already doing and compels us to continue our efforts,” said Edwards.

The report also dovetails with the National Healthy People 2020 Report, around which HBHC has been developing its future health priorities and research initiatives for 2012 and beyond. That report recognized that discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. And both reports, ultimately, validate Howard Brown Health Center’s belief that eliminating LGBT health disparities, requires community health centers like HBHC who are dedicated to expanding access to quality health care for all LGBT people, and improving the overall quality of primary care services in order to ensure that LGBT individuals can lead long, healthy lives. “HBHC has been a pioneer in training health care professionals to provide quality, culturally competent and compassionate health care to LGBT people, for decades,” said Edwards. “The IOM’s Report and the Healthy People 2020 supports and further compels this long‐standing belief and our future agenda that quality health care for all people, especially LGBT people is a right, not a choice and, ultimately, is of paramount priority for improving the overall health of all communities.”

About Howard Brown Health Center 

Founded in 1974, Howard Brown is now one of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and allies (LGBTQA) organizations. The agency serves more than 36,000 adults and youth each year in its diverse health and social service delivery system focused around seven major programmatic divisions: primary medical care, behavioral health, research, HIV/STD prevention, youth services, elder services, and community initiatives. Howard Brown is a multi‐site operation based in Chicago and includes a main health and research center in the Uptown neighborhood TRIAD Health practice at Illinois Masonic Hospital, the Broadway Youth Center, and three Brown Elephant resale shops in Chicago and Oak Park.