Erlanger and LGBTQ: We Compassionately Care for All People. All People.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, going to the doctor or hospital can bring up a lot of anxiety and discomfort. This is because healthcare is an intimate and vulnerable experience, and it can be challenging to disclose your true identity or sexuality to someone you don’t know. Sadly, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community is still very prevalent in many healthcare settings. However, despite these obstacles, it is essential that LGBTQ+ individuals find and receive adequate healthcare.

Research shows that LGBTQ+ individuals face unique health risks. When a medical team knows their patients’ sexual orientation and gender preference, this helps create an atmosphere where the patient receives the most knowledgeable and informed healthcare. Erlanger employees need to communicate that the patient’s information is confidential and protected by law, just like all other health information. Patients who proactively participate in their healthcare receive better care.

We spoke with family medicine physician Dr. Kayley Marvel about these challenges and what inclusive healthcare for LGBTQ+ patients looks like.

Q: What unique health risks do LGBTQ+ individuals encounter?

A: People in the LGBTQ+ community have unique and important health risks. Some of these risks are because they may be less likely to access health care services for several reasons, including a fear of discrimination or a past history of poor treatment. Because of this, LGBTQ+-identifying people may ignore health problems for longer or miss routine care like cancer screenings.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community have also usually experienced many stressors in life, which we know leads to mental and physical health problems. Some health problems specific to these patients include higher rates of:

  • Depression, anxiety, and panic disorders
  • Suicide and suicidal thoughts
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
  • Certain cancers
  • Drug, alcohol, and tobacco use

Having a team of providers (especially a primary care provider!) whom you trust is essential to addressing these serious health issues. This is why it is so important for everyone to find providers and offices where they feel comfortable and safe.

Q: Should I come out to my healthcare providers?

A: I take the best care of my patients when I know all their risk factors for certain conditions. I encourage all patients to share their sexual orientation and gender identity with their providers. We can create the most respectful and safe space possible when we know your gender identity. By knowing your sexual orientation, we can address topics and risks that are unique to you so you get the most knowledgeable care. Studies have also shown that patients who share information like this and proactively participate in their health also receive better care and have better outcomes.

Q: How will my sexual orientation and gender identity information be used?

A: Providers use this information to ensure your health needs are met. This includes creating an inclusive environment and providing no gaps in your healthcare or screenings.

Q: If I decide to come out to my provider, who will know this information?

A: This becomes a part of your medical records that only your care team can see. This information is confidential and protected by law, just like all your other health information.

Individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) can now indicate that information in Erlanger’s MyCHART patient medical records. The team at Erlanger wants to avoid assumptions and provide quality care to all our patients. The better we know our patients, the better we can care for them. Healthcare providers can ask more open-ended questions or use free text subsections for patients who are non-binary or whose gender identity has changed.

Feeling comfortable visiting the hospital or doctor is essential for everyone, and it is especially critical for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Dr. Marvel believes effective healthcare must be inclusive, non-judgmental, and compassionate for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Marvel, please call 423-778-8950.

Dr. Kayley Marvel is a family medicine physician with Erlanger Primary Care – Volkswagen Drive.

Erlanger LGBTQ Dr. Marvel

Kayley Marvel, MD,  Specializes in Family Medicine