PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Penn Medicine has a new medical director for LGBTQIA+ health. The appointment is aimed at improving care and access.
This newly created role highlights Penn’s focus on decreasing health disparities that exist in the LGBTQIA+ community.
“They aren’t getting the preventative care they need,” Dr. Kevin Kline said.
Dr. Kline is the first-ever medical director for LGBTQIA+ health at Penn Medicine, where he’s also a professor.
“One of the main things is to help us expand access to care and quality of care,” he said.
Dr. Kline said many LGBTQIA+ patients in addition to traditional health needs have some unique situations that many doctors aren’t trained for.
“This is just an area where we’ve lacked education historically so people often avoid providing care in this area because they’re afraid of doing harm,” he said.
Dr. Kline, who also treats patients, said some LGBTQIA+ patients avoid care because of discrimination they’ve faced in some health settings.
“LGBTQ people have previously and historically been ignored, stigmatized and sometimes even harmed by health systems,” Gennady Vulakh said.
Vulakh, a second-year medical student, applauds Penn for naming an LGBTQIA+ medical director.
“We definitely get a lot more specific curriculum about how to be more sensitive in the community,” Vulakh said.
In his classes, Dr. Kline helps train future doctors about things like gender-affirming care and the use of prep medications to prevent HIV transmission.
He also discusses the importance of seeing people beyond stereotypes and not making assumptions. Life lessons important for everyone and respecting how people want to be identified including thinking about language.
“It’s ‘Are you married?’ and not ‘Do you have a husband?'” Vulakh said.
There are currently no standardized guidelines for LGBTQIA+ health care.
That’s something Dr. Kline is now working to create.