The public hospital system in New York City has launched a new training program to help its employees become more knowledgeable and culturally aware about the specific and unique health needs of the LGBT community. The program, which is mandatory for all 37,000 employees of public hospitals and is being organized in partnership with the National LGBT Cancer Network, is the first program of its kind in the United States.
The training includes a video and lectures about behaviors and health issues that are disproportionately prevalent in LGBT individuals, like smoking, alcohol abuse, mental health problems, and some sexually transmitted infections. The importance of follow-ups and avoiding misdiagnoses are also covered. The overall goal is to eliminate barriers to health care for LGBT people and ensure that they are not discriminated against or underserved.
The initiative is being implemented shortly after the release of several new reports that reveal the importance of further study into the unique needs of LGBT individuals. In late March, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies released a report - "The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding" - that concluded that the LGBT population, like most minority populations, have specific health concerns that providers need to understand. In order to most effectively treat sexual and gender minorities, providers must formulate a stronger "cultural competency" with regard to LGBT people.