Finding a doctor can be challenging for those in the LGBTQ+ community, and some avoid going to doctors' offices altogether. Inova is trying to change that by opening a new Pride Clinic specifically for those patients.
"I think from the get go, coming in, seeing our nice rainbow door and then being greeeted, being asked 'What are your pronouns? 'How do you prefer to be addressed?'" said Dr. Jorge Ramallo, who is the physician leading the clinic in Falls Church, Virginia.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Ramallo says he understands the need well. He says he encountered discrimination and lack of understanding before he entered the medical field.
"The LBGTQ+ community is very well documented that they suffer from a lot of health disparities and that stems from avoidance of the health care system," Ramallo said.
The Pride Clinic is first and foremost a primary care practice that will see patients ages 12 and up, he said.
"We have all the routine stuff that any fully-staffed care clinic has," Ramallo said.
But care will also be tailored to the needs of LGBTQ+ patients.
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"There might be extra layers of care that you may need, such as gender affirming care. So if you need to explore the options of hormones, getting psychotherapy, things like that, we can definitely provide those as well," he said.
The clinic also has rooms set up for patients who need to speak to a counselor or therapist.
Rodney Lewis is a health educator and community advocate who has worked to guide patients to LGBTQ+ friendly doctors. He said he appreciates the newly opened clinic.
"I want to know that my primary care physician will be able to relate to me and not just speak to me about my diagnosis, but speak to me about my entire person," Lewis said.
Even though the Pride Clinic has just opened, Inova expects demand to grow quickly.
"I want people to come here and feel like ‘I’m not judged here. This is a place where it feels good,'" said Karen Berube, Inova's vice president of community and population health.
The Pride Clinic opened in mid-May, and had it’s official opening ceremony on Wednesday.
Go here for more information about the clinic.