Longtime Jefferson NJ Patient Shares Excitement Over New LGBTQ+ Practice
For years, members of the LGBTQ+ community have struggled to find adequate and accessible medical care; their unique health needs and identities are sometimes misunderstood or not clearly addressed.
Studies have shown that, due to poor insurance coverage and a lack of cultural competency (awareness and acceptance), LGBTQ+ people are at a higher risk for various health conditions, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and mental illness.
Nicole D., at 55-years-old, is no stranger to these disparities, as she herself has felt shunned – and says she’s been treated as an “other” many times when seeking health services.
Thankfully, Nicole didn’t let her negative experiences discourage her from finding the right doctor. Some 15 years ago, she met with Dr. Todd Levin, Jefferson Health Infectious Diseases Medical Director and Specialist, and she’s looked forward to her doctor visits ever since.
Nicole recalls when she first told Dr. Levin about her history. Rather than dismissing her, he simply smiled and ensured her his main concern was her health. “It felt absolutely amazing to be cared for in that capacity. I knew I was welcome in his office.”
At the time, she and her husband, Michael, lived in Sicklerville, N.J. They are both so pleased with Dr. Levin’s care that they’ve continued to commute over an hour to his office from their new residence in North Jersey.
When asked why she’s stuck by Dr. Levin’s side for so long, she responded, “He’s wonderful. He has always been thorough with my care; he listens to you; and he’s open and honest about what he does and doesn’t know. For someone in the LGBTQ+ community, having a doctor who’s willing to put in the extra research to properly care for you is HUGE.”
The new Jefferson Health Haddonfield Primary & Specialty Care office (A LGBTQ+ Affirming Practice) opens its doors this January, under the leadership of Medical Director Dr. Levin. Nicole and her husband are eager to check it out, as well as recommend it to friends.
A multidisciplinary care model, the office will house providers in various subspecialties, including: primary care; infectious diseases; mental and behavioral health; and more. Additionally, all staff and providers will be trained and proficient in LGBTQ+ care.
“With the opening of this office, we strive to provide extra attention to the LGBTQ+ community – a community that frequently has trouble accessing healthcare due to societal biases,” explained Dr. Levin. “This community has specialized health needs, and we want it to be easier for them to stay healthy. Our goal is simple: to improve lives.”
Being able to go to one location for almost every aspect of her health is incredibly exciting, says Nicole. “Convenience is one thing, but having this type of comprehensive medical practice means an increase in self-confidence and overall well-being for our community – for people who have been made to feel inadequate for so long.”
At the end of the day, what Nicole looks for in a doctor isn’t much different than what most people do; more than anything, she wants to feel welcomed and be taken seriously. For LGBTQ+ patients, this takes cultural competency; knowledge on appropriate treatments (such as hormone replacement therapy and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention); and inclusiveness.
“Being culturally competent, to me, means if I walk into an office, I won’t be judged for who I am,” explained Nicole. “As my doctor, you’ll carefully and compassionately take care of the issues I am having. We’re all humans, and we should all be treated equally.”
Dr. Levin shares that the office is staffed with doctors who not only have ample experience but are empathetic and comfortable with caring for LGBTQ+ patients.
“Our standardized training ensures that everyone understands the importance of culturally competent care,” Dr. Levin added. “It is of the utmost importance that our providers can effectively manage LGBTQ+ specialized needs and provide optimal care. We want our patients to learn about and thrive in every aspect of their health.”
Nicole knows how frustrating it can be to find LGBTQ+ friendly medical care; for those who don’t know where to start, she says look no further.
“The new Jefferson Health Haddonfield Primary & Specialty Care office is going to make finding care so much easier, and I couldn’t be happier.”
To learn more about Haddonfield Primary & Specialty Care, an LGBTQ+ Affirming Practice, click HERE.