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Jefferson Health Launches Primary Care Program for LGBTQIA+ Older Adults

Jefferson Health announced the opening of “Pride at the Jefferson Center for Healthy Aging,” a program dedicated to caring for Philadelphia’s aging LGBTQIA+ community. This program is the first of its kind, combining clinical care and research efforts to create a primary care home for LGBTQIA+ older adults.

“Jefferson is proud to be at the forefront of delivering inclusive, compassionate primary and gender-affirming care for LGBTQIA+ older individuals. Inclusivity is about feeling welcomed, valued and respected, no matter where you are from or who you are. Putting people first is a core value at Jefferson Health, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer these critical services to the LGBTQIA+ community,” says Baligh Yehia, MD, MPP, MSc, FACP, President of Jefferson Health.

Pride at the Jefferson Center for Healthy Aging combines best practices in LGBTQIA+ inclusive, geriatrics-informed primary care with advanced care needed by many members of these communities, including gender-affirming care, HIV care, and sensitive advance care planning. As part of these efforts, clinicians in the practice receive ongoing training from SAGECare, a leading training organization specializing in LGBTQIA+ cultural humility for older adults. Faculty research efforts at the center have yielded paradigm-shifting educational materials for medical trainees that have been presented locally and nationally. Current research is aiding the development of a toolkit that can allow clinical settings outside Jefferson Health to replicate Pride’s clinical program.

“Today’s LGBTQIA+ older adults have witnessed monumental changes in the world—politically, socially and medically. With this novel program, we have a unique opportunity to recognize the challenges members of these communities have faced and take their unique needs into account. For too long, many LGBTQIA+ older adults have felt the need to hide their identities in healthcare. They have expected or even experienced discrimination in clinical settings. With Pride, we have created a safe space that empowers them, offering affirming healthcare and a community safe haven,” says Dr. Michael Danielewicz, Director of Pride at the Jefferson Center for Healthy Aging.

Older LGBTQIA+ communities experienced significant discrimination and loss over their histories; this proved especially true during the AIDS crisis. Dr. Danielewicz states that many of his patients with and without HIV faced a loss of their community and support system while experiencing exclusion from healthcare settings, which has created a lasting distrust of healthcare. “One study of older gay men showed that 20 percent of those surveyed had lost 15 or more acquaintances to HIV and AIDS at the peak of the crisis. Lesbian women and trans individuals were often left out of the discussions on the impact of HIV/AIDS entirely,” he said. “The program’s goal is to create a setting that supports these individuals in a way that they haven’t experienced and to help them build trust in healthcare while embracing their identities.”

Jefferson LGBTQIA+ Health Program

Jefferson Health strives to remove barriers to care by advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community across specialties and working to interrupt systemic and institutionalized oppression, racism, homophobia, and transphobia in the field of healthcare. We offer a full scope of affirming services with specially trained providers in a safe, professional, innovative setting. Some of these services are gender-affirming hormone treatment, gender-affirming top surgeries, HIV care/PrEP/PEP care, affirming OBGYN services, including reproductive services, and patient advocacy, among others.

In addition to Pride at the Jefferson Center for Healthy Aging, our program includes the Jefferson Einstein Pride Program, which began in 2015, and Haddonfield Primary Services & Specialty Care —an LGBTQIA+ affirming practice that started in 2021. These practices are conveniently located in Philadelphia and South Jersey and provide our community members with safe, professional and affirming care.