by Megan Hageman
Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County has earned a badge of honor that no other Ohio public health department was able to attain in 2020.
Due in large part to the efforts of LGBTQ Community Health Alliance, they have been named an “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader.” This designation is part of Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index, a tool which recognizes those facilities promoting inclusive and equitable care for LGBTQ+ patients.
Specifically in Dayton – an area hit hard in the last decade by unemployment, substance abuse, both natural and man-made disasters, and most recently the Coronavirus pandemic – Public Health’s work protecting the health and well-being of the entire community has become even more critical.
Although the organization’s efforts look slightly different nowadays with 100% virtual events and new approaches to connect with the community, Public Health’s LGBTQ Community Health Alliance marches on with upcoming initiatives addressing racism, intersectionality, and how to be a better ally to those who identify as LGBTQ+.
The Buckeye Flame connected with Jerry Mallicoat, Public Health’s LGBTQ Health Initiatives Project Manager, to better understand the program’s goals, as well as what it means to be a Healthcare Equality Leader.
What is the focus of the Public Health LGBTQ Community Health Alliance?
Our goal is to identify and help improve some of the health disparities that exist within the LGBTQ community. That’s everything from mental health issues, suicidality, and substance abuse; those are the really large ones. But, we do that through social determinants of health perspectives. The social determinants of health are basically the context and environments in which we live, work, play, and learn and how those influence our ability to thrive.
It’s a group of about 65 LGBTQ and ally people and organizations across Montgomery County who are engaged and working in 5 different teams to address the health disparities. Along the way, we also talk a lot about health promotion and prevention because there are a lot of health services that exist in the community, both at Public Health and through other healthcare providers, that can help people thrive if they’re LGBTQ. But, often people just don’t think about them or don’t know about them. We want to be sure everybody in our community understands the health services available that can help them and their families live happy, healthy, well-adjusted lives. That’s really what we’re about.
How does this program fit into Public Health’s overarching mission?
Our mission and vision is to make Montgomery County a place where everyone who lives here can thrive – and when we say everyone, we mean everyone, including LGBTQ people.
What we are trying to do in particular is to focus on where the health needs are greatest. It’s no secret that in this country, if you are white, middle-class you can typically get healthcare – sure it costs, but you typically have resources and you can afford to get healthcare when and where you need it. That’s not true for a lot of people who are part of marginalized communities, like the LGBTQ community.
There are socioeconomic issues that – because of bias and discrimination over decades, and in some cases centuries – have marginalized people in our community. So, they aren’t able to find or afford competent care. So, that’s part of the Public Health mission: to make the community a place where everyone can thrive regardless of your ability to pay.
Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County was named an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader in 2020 – what exactly does that mean?
What is means is we have performed exceptionally well against objective criteria and metrics from an organization that measures, assesses, and analyzes the delivery of healthcare to LGBTQ people in the country. The Healthcare Equality Index through the Human Rights Campaign is really the only set of objective measures for LGBTQ care that is used consistently.
So, that’s what it means in terms of what the designation is – we have been assessed as an organization that provides exceptional, culturally competent care and engagement.
What doors does this designation open?
In terms of opening doors, that remains to be seen. But it gives people a shortcut mechanism in order to know that they are dealing with an organization that is intentional about health equity, and in particular intentional about health equity with regard to the LGBTQ community. It’s kind of like having a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, or like having a brand that allows people to shortcut their service assessment. If someone is trying to assess, “Where do I go to get service for something or care for something?” it allows them to have a short hand way to do that, and have some confidence it’s going to be appropriate.
The other thing it does is set a benchmark for other healthcare organizations within the Dayton area. It encourages them to step up, to do more, and to be better around serving LGBTQ people.
- Attend one of Public Health LGBTQ Community Health Alliance’s several upcoming (virtual) events in Dayton:
- Greater Dayton LGBTQ Her/History Project Virtual Rubi Awards – October 21st
- LGBTQ+ Horizons of Aging Summit 2020 – November 16th – 18th
Megan Hageman is a Columbus, Ohio-based freelance writer working within the field of social media and content marketing. Her writing ranges from articles on non-profits to advice for working women and California weddings. Learn more at https://www.meganhageman.com/.