“As Bronx residents join New York and the rest of the world in celebrating Pride Month, it’s important to remember this is a time not only for celebration, but also reflection and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.
I understand how difficult it has been over the past few months for many of my friends, neighbors and the LGBTQ+ community, especially when it comes to accessing and receiving quality health care. As regional manager for EmblemHealth’s Neighborhood Care center in Harlem, my work focuses entirely on serving our community.
At EmblemHealth, we strive to ensure all of our members feel included, understood and respected. We see our members as individuals, with personal stories and unique needs. Unfortunately, people who identify as LGBTQ+ often tend to face more barriers to accessing health care than other groups.
In fact, the LGBTQ+ community often experiences worse health outcomes than other groups for a number of reasons. Many suffer from ongoing stress and anxiety from living in a society where LGBTQ+ individuals are often stigmatized. Those who do have access to medical care often struggle to find providers to meet their needs. The federal government’s reversal of anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people earlier this month will only increase these challenges. At EmblemHealth, we believe in quality health care for all, and are committed to protecting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community with the care and resources you deserve.
If you are not comfortable with your doctor, you are more likely to leave out information pertinent to your health, which will directly affect the level of care you receive.”
Veronica also wants to remind members that if they don’t feel comfortable with their current health care provider, the Neighborhood Care staff can help them find a new one. In fact, EmblemHealth has a partner provider group, AdvantageCare Physicians (ACPNY), which has over forty offices throughout New York’s boroughs. Some ACPNY offices, like the one on W 125th street in Harlem, are conveniently located in the same space as EmblemHealth’s Neighborhood Care offices, to make health and wellness easily accessible to those who need it. ACPNY also has an affiliate called BronxDocs, which has three convenient locations throughout the Bronx and offers virtual visits.
ACPNY takes a “whole you” approach to care, meaning that all the elements that contribute to your whole health picture – including your gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation – are used to your care to your specific needs. That’s why many of ACPNY’s providers have undergone special training to better care for LGBTQ+ patients.
Veronica also emphasizes the importance of mental health care, saying that “while physical health is important, our mental health should also be a top priority, as LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience mental health conditions and are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with difficult emotions, help is always available through local and national resources, including:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)
Trevor Project, which is dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ youth
- ThriveNYC (call 1-888-NYC-Well or text “Well” to 65173)
And remember, EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care is still offering free virtual support through customer care, social services, and wellness resources, even while our offices are closed.
“It’s also important to remember that Pride Month is about celebrating what we’ve accomplished as a community,” says Veronica. “You can celebrate safely by taking advantage of one of the dozens of virtual events taking place around New York City. The Bronx is hosting virtual celebrations that include a ceremony at the Bronx Borough Hall along with dance parties, readings, and more—all which you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. Social media channels and apps like MeetUp and Facebook are also great ways to find virtual events to join and meet new people while joining in the celebrations. For something more intimate with family and friends, why not schedule your own Pride party through Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime?”
EmblemHealth is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community and we remain committed to making sure our members have access to the care they deserve to lead a healthy, happy life—one in which they can truly be proud.
This blog post was originally posted as an op-ed on BronxVoice.