National training center targets LGBT care

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently awarded $248,000 to the Fenway Institute in Boston to create a National Training and Technical Assistance Center to help community health centers improve the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations.

The Fenway Institute is the research, training and policy arm of Fenway Health, a community health center. Since 2000, the Fenway Institute has provided medical, academic and community institutions with training, education, and technical assistance in LGBT health. Their work is based on "The Fenway Guide to LGBT Health," which is the only clinical textbook on LGBT health that was published in collaboration with the American College of Physicians in 2008.

"This award is an important step in HHS' continuing effort to provide health care services to all people recognizing that different groups of people may have distinctive health care needs," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Fenway will work to:

recruit leading experts in LGBT health to lead seminars and provide consultation to health center staff;

develop curricula specifically targeted to LGBT populations;

work closely with state primary care associations to maximize the geographic reach of the project.

HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN, said, "Significant health disparities exist for sexual and gender minorities. This award will help to expand access for the LGBT community to ensure that patients who need care can receive it in a safe, welcoming, and respectful environment."

This award to Fenway represents the first time that HRSA has entered into a National Cooperative Agreement that focuses on LGBT health.

In other news, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released guidance for enforcing new rules that give all patients, including those with same-sex partners, the right to choose who can visit them in the hospital as well as the right to choose who will help make medical decisions on their behalf.  All hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid must comply with these rules. For more information, see the press release "Medicare steps up enforcement of equal visitation and representation rights in hospitals" at http://www.hhs.gov. Select "news." Under "Latest News Releases," go to "September 7, 2011."