HEALTH

Demand for LGBTQ health care leads to ‘Proud’ center expansion

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset recognized the need for health care tailored to LGBTQ patients and started the Proud Family Health Center two years ago. Doctors were seeing patients one night a week and the waitlist started to build. The Proud center expanded from its former site earlier this year.

According to a Lambda Legal study, 73% of transgender respondents and 29% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents felt they would be treated differently by medical staff because of their LGBTQ status. Additionally, 52% of transgender respondents and 9% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents felt they would be refused medical services altogether because of their LGBTQ status.

“We’re really trying to hallmark ourselves as providing just basic medical care, so if you have a cold or need a wellness exam or a visit for work you can come in and get an appointment the same day,” said Paula Gutierrez, director of diversity and inclusion at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset. “But as far as specialty services, we do provide HIV counseling and PrEP therapy. We also do hormone replacement therapy for patients that are gender transitioning.”

The center is open five days a week, Monday through Friday, and they anticipate seeing over 600 patients in its first year.

RWJ Barnabas Health is an underwriter of NJTV News.