Peoria Proud is creating a registry of LGBTQ-friendly healthcare providers in central Illinois.
Nathan Neilson is vice president of communications for Peoria Proud. He's also a medical student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria.
Neilson said the idea to create a local LGBTQ+ Directory of Clinical Care Services (DoCCS) came after he and fellow Peoria Proud board member Josh Nordman saw social media calls for doctors that are accepting of various sexual orientations and gender identities. The directory is being replicated from an existing study in another community.
“This DoCCS study really assesses a provider’s ability to use proper language and also assess their competencies in different areas that LGBT individuals have higher needs in,” Neilson said.
That includes services like gender-affirming hormone therapy, birth control, and HIV-prevention medication. But Neilson said it also involves understanding LGBTQ+ patients’ overall health.
"One thing that kind of gets lost in LGBT healthcare is that LGBT patients are also people that have regular healthcare problems, whether that be managing their diabetes or whatever that might be,” he said.
Neilson said they’ve so far received more than a dozen submissions of primary care doctors, mental health providers, and medical specialists in areas like rheumatology that are LGBTQ-affirming. Neilson said the next step is to survey those providers to vet their knowledge about serving LGBTQ+ patients.
“As Peoria Proud, we’re not able to give formal medical care advice to anyone, but it’s nice to be able to know which providers have demonstrated that they have these competencies in these areas,” he said. Neilson said they’re working on a system to score the providers and will release the directory in the coming weeks. After that, he said, patients will be able to leave feedback on their experiences with those doctors, as a kind of “checks and balance” system.
“It’s something that hopefully will leave a lasting impact on Peoria for years to come and will be relatively self-sustaining,” he said.
He said there’s also room for the registry to grow in terms of what data is provided. For example, he said, they could incorporate information on insurance approval.
“People who belong to the LGBT community are at higher risk of being uninsured or not having access to medical care,” he said. “That’s definitely something that we’re going to look into as we’re looking at these provider offices and the providers themselves — what insurances they accept or if they work with uninsured patients.”
Community members who identify as LGBTQ+ are encouraged to continue sharing healthcare providers through an anonymous survey on Peoria Proud’s website.
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