Free clinic will target LGBT patients

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When friends used to ask Jus­tin Neisler about finding Augus­ta physicians experienced with treating gay and lesbian patients, giving advice was never easy.

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Justin Neisler (left), 26, a fourth-year student at the Medical College of Georgia, and Dr. David Kriegel, medical director of the Equality Clinic, stand in the Equality Clinic, a student-run health clinic for LGBT patients who are uninsured or fall below the 200 percent poverty level threshold.   JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Justin Neisler (left), 26, a fourth-year student at the Medical College of Georgia, and Dr. David Kriegel, medical director of the Equality Clinic, stand in the Equality Clinic, a student-run health clinic for LGBT patients who are uninsured or fall below the 200 percent poverty level threshold.

“Friends would come to me that needed a doctor, and I couldn’t tell them where to go,” said Neisler, a fourth-year Medical College of Georgia student at Georgia Regents Univer­sity. “I felt heartbroken and absolutely useless as a professional that I couldn’t help them.”

Despite its dynamic medical industry, Augusta, like most cities, has lacked a specialized health clinic and the physicians trained to accommodate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients, leaving many in the community with few options.

After seeing the need firsthand, Neisler and a group of about 10 medical students have set out to change that.

After a year of planning, the students will launch the Equality Clin­ic on the GRU campus Sept. 10. The free clinic will offer primary care services in an environment free from judgment or discrimination.

The clinic will target LGBT patients but will be open to anybody below the 200 percent poverty level and those uninsured or underinsured.

The Equality Clinic will be the first health care center in Georgia to specifically target the LGBT community, although clinics across the state have changed policies and increased training to better serve gay patients, according to Linda Ellis, the executive director of The Health Initiative in Atlanta.

“LGBT individuals, particularly those who live in more rural areas, are often hesitant to access health care for fear of being discriminated against,” El­lis said in an e-mail. “That delay can often lead to more progressed diagnoses, costlier treatment and worse outcomes. Lives and money can be saved if LGBT individuals can feel safe in accessing basic primary care and screenings. GRU’s Equality Clinic is providing just that.”

In a 2010 study by Lambda Legal, researchers found 56 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual patients had been refused care, blamed for their health status, physically or verbally abused by a provider, or refused to be touched by medical staff.

Hector Vargas, the executive director of GLMA – Health Professionals Advan­cing LGBT Equality, said much of the discrimination comes from a lack of training and awareness among providers on how to treat these patients.

Medical schools are not required to educate students about LGBT health care, and most provide less than five hours of such training, he said.

“I think it’s huge for a population like Augusta to have this kind of clinic,” Vargas said. “For Augusta, whose LGBT community isn’t as visible, to have a place where they have some comfort and assurance the providers who are responsible for taking care of their health are not only welcoming but also have an understanding of the specific health needs they face is huge.”

The Equality Clinic will see patients the second Wednes­day of every month beginning Sept. 10. It will be housed in GRU’s Inter­dis­ci­plinary Practice and Research Center on St. Se­bastian Way and will share the building with Clinica Latina, a free clinic that has operated for years in a different location.

Neisler said students running the clinic will be trained in the health needs of the LGBT community and will be educated on how to make the environment a welcoming place. David Kriegel, the director for student education in the department of family medicine, will serve as medical director.

Kriegel said the clinic will offer the standard services found in a primary care center such as physicals, preventative health screenings and treatment for acute illnesses.

He said the clinic is also working to add a mental health component, to provide services for transgender patients who are seeking counseling and to help patients with other mental health needs.

Kyle Friez, a second-year MCG student, said the main goal is to make patients feel welcome and comfortable when many might have been discriminated against in other settings.

He said the clinic will be helping more than just the patients. Student volunteers will get a chance to work in an interdisciplinary setting alongside other nursing, physician assistant and medical students, while also practicing patient care skills.

“It reminds you of why you went to medical school and sat through lectures all day,” Friez said. “When it comes down to it, it’s about the patient, and it’s great to see you’re making a difference.”

KICKOFF EVENT
  • WHAT: The clinic will hold a kickoff fundraiser dinner with proceeds to help support the services.
  • WHEN: Sept. 8, 5:30 p.m.
  • WHERE: Atrium - GRU Health Sciences Building
  • COST: $10 per plate or $5 with GRU student ID. Food provided by Teresa’s Mexican Restaurant
  • LEARN MORE: The free Equality Clinic will see patients on the second Wednesday of every month beginning Sept. 10.
  • Patients must be below the 200 percent poverty line or be uninsured or underinsured.
  • It will be located in the Interdisciplinary Practice and Research Center at 987 St. Sebastian Way, where Clinica Latina will also see patients on the first and third Wednesdays of every month.
  • To schedule an appointment, call (762) 218-2226, e-mail equalityclinicaugusta@gmail.com or visit www.equalityclinicaugusta.com
  • The free clinic will thrive off volunteer work and contributions to purchase supplies. To donate, visit www.equalityclinicaugusta.causevox.com
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CobaltGeorge
176149
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CobaltGeorge 09/01/14 - 09:18 pm
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All I Can Say Is

Isn't that something. I never knew that they were built different and needed special doctors.

corgimom
38519
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corgimom 09/02/14 - 04:12 am
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No, they aren't built

No, they aren't built different, and yes, they do have unique health needs. It's sad that anybody should hesitate to get health care because of prejudice and misunderstanding, nobody should feel that way.

geecheeriverman
4690
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geecheeriverman 09/02/14 - 04:25 am
11
6
FREE

To be politically correct, all services must be FREE. I just tremble to think about what our beloved USofA is turning into. It is so sad.

carcraft
28495
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carcraft 09/02/14 - 05:55 am
14
3
Working at GRU medical center

Working at GRU medical center for over 14 years I have NEVER seen a patient treated with disrespect because of sexual orientation. I have seen some absolutely crazy things but the staff I work with are very professional. I often wonder about "free ". GRU has budget problems so who is providing the floor space, support staff and administrative staff for the "free "clinic?

carcraft
28495
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carcraft 09/02/14 - 05:57 am
14
5
Oh, by the way, I have been

Oh, by the way, I have been told repeatedly that "they are like everybody else " except they need a special clinic?

nocnoc
49223
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nocnoc 09/02/14 - 06:31 am
11
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No snide remarks intended

As humans we know they are not built different.

While I refuse to given SPECIAL RIGHTS & LATITUDES to Homosexuals or anyone because they are "SPECIAL", I also understand some people are just what they are and won't or can't change.

BUT
We have years of medical data collected that shows homosexuals have more Mental and Physical health issues than heterosexuals.

We know they have increased, if not special, medical needs because of their biologically or chosen sexual Lifestyle?

We know the Homosexual community has higher risks of depression, anxiety and suicide.

We know they tend to die at earlier ages and have a host of issues uncommon to the general heterosexual public.

In short from a medical standpoint the lifestyle is not healthy.

Little Lamb
49133
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Little Lamb 09/02/14 - 06:52 am
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3
Clinic

I thought the Affordable Care Act was supposed to fix everything.

Bizkit
35644
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Bizkit 09/02/14 - 06:59 am
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Friends would come to me that

Friends would come to me that needed a doctor, and I couldn’t tell them where to go,” said Neisler, a fourth-year Medical College of Georgia student at Georgia Regents Univer­sity". Well they are students and obviously naive that anyone can go to just about any physician-I've never heard of any discrimination by any physician in the area-some are gay too. I'm glad the students are doing what they perceive as a good deed, but just because a gay person is apprehensive or fearful of discrimination doesn't mean it exists. I would argue this population needs the better trained, internship, residency, board certified physician instead of a medical student who isn't fully trained. Also as pointed out the ACA was suppose to eliminate access problems for the poor. I guess the ACA is a dismal failure.

OJP
7739
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OJP 09/02/14 - 08:20 am
6
10
This is truly an asset to the CSRA. Thanks, Mr. Neisler!

There is nothing more comforting that going to a doctor and not having to have "that" conversation (or worry that the doctor will provide less-than-standard care once your sexual orientation is disclosed).

And ignore the snide remarks. The country has left these people behind at a very rapid pace and they're just lashing out.

carcraft
28495
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carcraft 09/02/14 - 08:30 am
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3
LOL OJP , the country has

LOL OJP , the country has left them behind ( was a pun intended?)? That is the reason 2 to 5% of the population get to redefine marriage, year apart churches, get to sue people whose religious beliefs are counter to there's ? Humm! Been to mid town Atlanta lately? A straight you hardly see a straight couple in the area and it is expensive !

OJP
7739
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OJP 09/02/14 - 08:39 am
4
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@carcraft

The opponents of equal rights have been left behind. The country is rallying behind the LGBT community.

carcraft
28495
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carcraft 09/02/14 - 09:05 am
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3
OJP, either the country is

OJP, either the country is leaving them behind at a rapid pace or rallying around them. It is just so hard to claim victim hood entitlement with the country "rallying around but the dissonance can be resolved by liberal magic I am sure!

Bizkit
35644
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Bizkit 09/02/14 - 09:44 am
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1
There is apparently a

There is apparently a significant homosexual population here there is no discrimination documented or even hinted-"not a smidgeon" physicians take an oath and are bound just like the issue with the ASU counselor student who couldn't follow her discriminatory beliefs and be a counselor. It is absurd as pediatricians, family practice, internist in the area deal with AIDS, STDs, any sex related health issue without prejudice everyday. Now I have heard of physicians refusing to accept patients who refuse vaccinations, but that is a health based decision. Then I repeat probably, just like the percent of homosexuals in the general population, 14-17% of area physicians are homosexual too, maybe more, but how would anyone know since they don't advertise that on their practice door. I know of several male and female physicians in the area-you can't discriminate against them to go to medical school either. Get real the issue is over for most-no one cares about sexual orientation as they shouldn't. Who hasn't had a boss who was gay by now-and then too many wouldn't know if they did or didn't.

jbenny2010
272
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jbenny2010 09/02/14 - 09:43 am
7
2
Maybe I'm slow

but I don't understand the need for this. Why don't LGBT people go to regular doctors? Doctors may have a personal opinion concerning lifestyles, but they are trained to treat everyone the same. It's funny how they want to be treated the same as everyone else, but feel they need special medical treatment. I don't get them at all. . .

Bizkit
35644
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Bizkit 09/02/14 - 09:51 am
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2
Wow perhaps this should be

Wow perhaps this should be interpreted as an indictment of GRU being discriminatory towards homosexuals-because apparently they have an issue with it. It was a GRU student so patients must be referring to GRU faculty being discriminatory? None of that with the private physicians so far so it must be Azziz is allowing discrimination at GRU???? It is patently absurd. Now patients maybe apprehensive to discuss such personal issues with any physician, but that applies to lots of issues.

carcraft
28495
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carcraft 09/02/14 - 10:22 am
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3
Bizkit, exactly!!! With

Bizkit, exactly!!! With their own little clinic they might feel better about it. As I said free isn't quit so free . Many poor males won't go to the clinic because they don't. Want to be stigmatized . I predict this will be a financial fiasco and quietly close due to lack of clients

itsanotherday1
48344
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itsanotherday1 09/02/14 - 12:54 pm
2
1
I'm generally empathetic to

I'm generally empathetic to LGBT with respect to discrimination and homophobia; but this is just a bunch of malarkey. Any physician worth their salt would not give a second thought to who someone sleeps with, beyond disease concerns. The medical needs are the same for all humans; with cultural differences causing some disease bias.

KSL
144083
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KSL 09/02/14 - 01:02 pm
4
2
Equal, but special.

Equal, but special.

burninater
9941
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burninater 09/02/14 - 01:45 pm
2
7
Folks, if you are arguing

Folks, if you are arguing that there is no apparent need for this other than a desire to be treated specially, then you did not read the article closely.

"In a 2010 study by Lambda Legal, researchers found 56 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual patients had been refused care, blamed for their health status, physically or verbally abused by a provider, or refused to be touched by medical staff."

Bizkit
35644
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Bizkit 09/02/14 - 01:53 pm
5
3
Burn that isn't a peer

Burn that isn't a peer reviewed study but from a gay rights civil liberties org. Are they talking about legal discrimination because of present laws? I haven't heard of any accusations of such practices at GRU, and there are gay faculty too.

Bizkit
35644
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Bizkit 09/02/14 - 02:01 pm
2
2
I did find a 2008 paper. "As

I did find a 2008 paper. "As an exploration of the potential impact of fears of discrimination against GLBTs in long-term health care settings, this study compared perceptions of GLBT persons and heterosexuals. A total of 132 GLBT persons and 187 heterosexuals living in Eastern Washington completed a survey that contained demographic questions and perceptions of discrimination in long-term care settings. Most respondents suspected that staff and residents of care facilities discriminate against GLBTs. GLBT respondents who believed that residents of care facilities are victims of discrimination were more likely to believe that they would have to hide their sexual orientation if admitted to a care facility. GLBT respondents were more likely than heterosexual respondents to believe that GLBTs do not have equal access to health care and social services, that GLBTs residents of care facilities are victims of discrimination, that GLBT sensitivity training programs would benefit staff and residents of care facilities, and that GLBT retirement facilities would be a positive development for older GLBTs. This study is offered as a preliminary investigation of concerns about GLBT discrimination in health care settings, how concerns are expressed, and the implications of those concerns for health care needs.

Bizkit
35644
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Bizkit 09/02/14 - 02:02 pm
3
2
It seems more fears of

It seems more fears of discrimination than documented discrimination??

Bizkit
35644
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Bizkit 09/02/14 - 02:02 pm
2
2
It seems more fears of

It seems more fears of discrimination than documented discrimination??

burninater
9941
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burninater 09/02/14 - 02:18 pm
2
6
Biz, here is the 2010 Lambda

Biz, here is the 2010 Lambda Legal study:

http://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/publications/downloads/wh...

Design and data analysis were conducted by Somjen Frazer Consulting, now apparently Strength in Numbers Consulting Group.

"Somjen Frazer is the founder, President and Principal Consultant at Strength In Numbers Consulting Group. She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and conference papers. She received her Master's Degree in Sociology from Oxford University and her BA from Cornell University. She was a Rhodes Scholar, Cornell Presidential Research Scholar, John Kenneth Galbraith Fellow in Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Progressive Women’s Voices Media Fellow."

This wasn't some fly-by-night analysis.

It is probably no accident that GRU is the organization sponsoring this clinic, based on your observation that discrimination accusations don't seem to propagate from interactions with practitioners at GRU.

jdsgirl63
3385
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jdsgirl63 09/02/14 - 02:49 pm
4
1
If they feel the need for a

If they feel the need for a special clinic, let them have it. If GRU wants to pay for it, let them. But don't ask for money from the taxpayers for it, because it is not a necessity - with all the laws in place, doctors are very concerned about lawsuits, they are not going to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation.

Now, they might not agree with it, but they'll treat you just the same as they treat people who are obese, smoke too much or drink too much, etc... the doctor is REQUIRED to tell you about the health risks that your behavior could cause to you. If homosexuals don't want to hear the possible negative sides to their orientation, then they're just looking for someone to pat them on the back and ignore the possible health risks they can encounter.

You want equal rights, but not equal treatment. That's disingenuous and can cause a lot of harm, not so much good.

burninater
9941
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burninater 09/02/14 - 03:49 pm
1
6
jdsgirl63, there are no

jdsgirl63, there are no known additional health risks associated with the state of being homosexual.

There are additional health risks associated with sexual promiscuity, but that is a potential risk behavior for any sexual orientation.

There are additional health risks associated with being a socially-marginalized population, but that is a potential risk factor for any persecuted group.

But there are no known additional health risks arising simply from homosexuality. Any credible medical practitioner knows that.

freeradical
1176
Points
freeradical 09/02/14 - 06:28 pm
1
1
Centers For Disease Control Begs To Differ

According to the Centers For Disease Control the per capita rates

of sexual disease among male homosexuals is off the charts compared

with the per capita rates of the same diseases among heterosexuals .

Little wonder that the Centers For Disease Control also maintain that

the life span of the average male homosexual is 10 years less than that

of their heterosexual counterparts .

They certainly do have their own peculiar virulent concerns .

On that we can agree .

Blood donation centers discriminate against male homosexuals with

extreme prejudice , not because they are homophobes .

They discriminate and refuse their blood because they are educated

on the scientific medical facts .

Bizkit
35644
Points
Bizkit 09/02/14 - 06:32 pm
1
1
Here is here CV.

Here is here CV. http://www.strengthinnumbersconsulting.com/sites/g/files/g226291/f/cvs/S...
I wonder why she didn't publish her findings in a peer review journal? After looking at her CV she is a gay feminist so I'm not surprised her study had this outcome. She could have published it in the Journal of Homosexuality or another supporting journal. Isn't this no different than a bunch of conservative sociologist and political scientist who publish a study that supports their posits or ideology? Some science has become politicized. Like Mark Regnerus study that disparaged LGBT parents.
Mark Daniel Regnerus is a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin.[1] His main fields of interest are sexual behavior, relationship dynamics, and religion. In 1999 and 2001 he won the Distinguished Article Award from the Sociology of Religion Section of the American Sociological Association.[2]
Regnerus has conducted research on the impact of a child having a parent who has been involved in a same-sex relationship. A 2012 population-based study of his in Social Science Research[9] generated protracted debate and controversy.[10][11] This included a disavowal by Regnerus' department chair at the University of Texas-Austin, in which Christine L. Williams cites the American Sociological Association, "which takes the position that the conclusions he draws from his study of gay parenting are fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds and that findings from Dr. Regnerus’ work have been cited inappropriately in efforts to diminish the civil rights and legitimacy of LBGTQ partners and their families."[12] Two hundred social scientists, led by Gary Gates, signed the "Letter to the editors and advisory editors of Social Science Research",[13] in which they express their concern "about the academic integrity of the peer review process for this paper as well as its intellectual merit."[14] Regnerus continues to defend the research.[15][16]

carcraft
28495
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carcraft 09/02/14 - 07:22 pm
0
0
The study in question was

The study in question was based on perceptions. Do these feelings comport to realty? Is this really a study about health care discrimination or perceptions? I have never seen a homosexual discriminated against at GRU Med Center Now if you ask criminals if Cops were unfair to them the answer would be?

burninater
9941
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burninater 09/02/14 - 07:48 pm
1
0
"CDC begs to differ"? No,

"CDC begs to differ"?

No, they don't.

You will not find a single CDC finding that increased disease rates among homosexuals is caused by homosexuality, because it isn't.

Increased disease rates are caused by increased exposure to risk, and exposure to risk is a behavioral issue, not a sexual orientation issue.

Sexual partners who receive a clean bill of health prior to sexual activity, and who remain monogamous, will not be exposed to sexually-transmitted disease, regardless of their or their partner's sexual orientation.

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