Local health team increases equality of care

By Lindsay Advocate

The City of Kawartha Lakes Family Health Team is ensuring its family doctors and health care providers have increased knowledge and skills in providing health care for questioning, transitioning and transgender patients and their families and caregivers.

“We identified the need among our patient population here locally,” states Family Health President, Dr. Peter Anderson of Lindsay. “Our team is committed to the highest quality of care for all patients.”

Transgender people, people who are questioning their gender assigned at birth and/or those who are transitioning may have specific health care needs including hormone therapy, silicone injections and increased heart health and cancer care. Transgender persons are also at higher risk of depression and substance use due to the challenges faced living in a cis-centric society.

Transgender and non-binary people may avoid seeking health care due to the evidence-based fear of having their valid medical needs denied. Nation-wide, many people report being turned away or having negative experiences with health care providers. In Kawartha Lakes, patients have reported having to travel outside the area for specialized care. Not all providers know how to care for transgender patients.

To this end, the Family Health Team is providing enhanced training to its doctors and health care providers on topics related to holistic trans care through Rainbow Health Ontario in Toronto. Originally planned for in-person training sessions for health care providers, the program has moved on-line due to COVID-19.

The Rainbow Health program requires completion of seven fundamental modules including on physical and mental health and barriers to access to health access for 2SLGBTQ+ people. Further training is available on topics including trans-positive counselling, hormones, surgeries and how to make care 2SLGBTQ+ friendly.

In working on ways to enhance care, the team consulted with members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, including Kawartha Lakes Pride, the Gender Journeys program offered through the local Canadian Mental Health Association and the Trans Care Clinic at Peterborough Family Health Team.

“We want to ensure all of our patients feel comfortable in coming for health care here,” notes Executive Director Mike Perry. “Coming to see the doctor or a health professional should be an experience that is normal and helpful for everyone.”

Alex Karn, educator and worker with Gender Journeys, agrees. “I am pleased to see this work to mainstream care for all patients in Kawartha Lakes,” says Karn. “This will help people not having to travel for care and have as positive an experience in their doctors’ office as everyone else.”

The Family Health Team is providing information on the program to other service providers operating in the City of Kawartha Lakes. The training is ongoing into next year.

For more information on training programs regarding trans health, click here or call 416-324-4100.

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