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Healthwatch 16: Sensitivity for LGBTQ+ care

Newswatch 16's Courtney Harrison spoke with a doctor from Geisinger about how they are taking steps to make people feel more comfortable visiting a doctor.

DANVILLE, Pa. — People who identify as LGBTQ+ report experiencing health care discrimination, and many postpone medical care as a result.

Doctors at Geisinger have been researching how to better serve patients in the LGBTQ+ community to feel comfortable seeing a doctor when medical issues arise.

Geisinger has developed a process to collect information about patients' sexual orientation and gender identity through the electronic health record by logging in and answering a few questions to allow medical professionals to address their needs based on gender or sexual orientation.

"Knowing their gender identity, their sexual orientation, is crucial, and historically there has been distrust by the LGBTQ population in the medical fraternity and rightfully so. There have been discriminations in the past, so in order to overcome that, it actually leads to poor health care. How can we see more care jobs in the LGBTQ plus population?" said Dr. Ali Chittalia.

Dr. Chittalia says by avoiding screenings, serious health conditions might be missed or get worse.

"There are a lot of health care outcomes which are undesirable, and there are also significant care gaps that somebody would need, so in order to provide the comfort level, we had to make our culture more sensitive and a better learning environment for everyone, so when our patients walk into the clinic, they are able to discuss their personal history with us."

This process of collecting information to make those in the LGBTQ+ community feel more comfortable has just begun, but Dr. Chittalia feels it's a move in the right direction.

"This is a journey that we have begun, and we are going to embrace this culture and provide health care equity to our entire population so they can come to us with confidence."

Watch more Healthwatch 16 stories on YouTube.  

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