A new project led by Jeffrey Kwong, DNP, ANP-BC, director of the adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner program at Columbia University School of Nursing, Manhattan, is working to eliminate health disparities in the LGBT population in New York City.
As the project director of the newly established Elder LGBT Interprofessional Care Program, Kwong secured a $1.5 million cooperative agreement from the federal Health Resources and Service Administration to help address common medical and mental health needs of the aging LGBT adult population, according to a news release.
In partnership with Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders, interprofessional collaborative practice teams that include nurse practitioners, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, physical therapists and occupational therapists are being assembled to provide culturally competent care to LGBT older adults in New York City.
Many times older LGBT people remain a silent population because they dont bring up their sexuality or talk about sex with their health providers, Kwong said in the release. Our teams of health professionals are developing a comprehensive health assessment program that will help us identify treatment needs that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Walter Bockting, PhD, professor of medical psychology in psychiatry and nursing at Columbia, is associate director of the project.
Based on the results of the initial assessments, patients will receive a personalized health and wellness plan that may include preventive health screenings and referrals to workshops that focus on chronic disease management. Individuals with more extensive medical needs will receive assistance from E-LINCs nurse practitioner and social worker team, which will provide home visits and care coordination as needed. In addition, patients who require LGBT culturally competent primary care or mental health care will be referred to Columbia Universitys nurse practitioner primary care practice, soon to be opened in Washington Heights. These patients also may access psychotherapy and psychiatric care at the newly established LGBT mental health program at the Lucy Wicks Clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical College.
According to Bockting, there is a tremendous need for mental health care accessible and sensitive to the specific needs of LGBT elders. Depression is more common among the LGBT population, often related to stigma and isolation, yet not enough knowledgeable mental health professionals who accept Medicare are available, he said in the release.
Another goal of E-LINC is training the next generation of healthcare professionals to provide LGBT culturally competent care, Kwong said in the release.
This isnt just asking about HIV risk or discussing sex with gay men, he said. Its also considering the health needs of lesbian women who are at higher risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, or transgender individuals who may be at risk for certain comorbidities due to long-term hormone therapy.
The E-LINC program is being funded by HRSAs Bureau of Health Workforce Division of Nursing and Public Health Nursing Education and Practice Branch.