MUSC hosts free summit on LGBTQ health care

March 21, 2022
three people sit around a table talking with papers in front of them
From left: Ronnie Chatterjee, Melissa Carroll and Chase Glenn, members of the Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at work. Photo by Sarah Pack

LGBTQ health care isn’t the province of a few specialists. It’s for all providers.

“The vast majority of the LGBTQ community just needs general health care. They don't necessarily need something highly specialized. And so it's a really important aspect of this conversation, which is just raising up general practitioners who are well-versed and comfortable in this sort of care,” said Chase Glenn, director of LGBTQ+ Health Services and Enterprise Resources at the Medical University of South Carolina.

To help providers become more comfortable, MUSC is hosting a free virtual LGBTQ+ Health Equity Summit in April aimed at health care providers, students, researchers and anyone interested in the issue. The two-day event will feature breakout sessions for deep dives into specific issues as well as keynotes from national speakers, including Assistant Health Secretary Rachel L. Levine, M.D., the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the Senate.

“Across the two days, there's really something that I think will appeal to everyone. I think there are going to be some really great ‘aha!’ moments for folks,” Glenn said.

The summit is open to all, not just to those with MUSC ties.

LGBTQ+ Health Equity Summit
April 7 & 8
Free & virtual
Register online

"We’re in communities across the state, so why not offer this to everyone? MUSC is so integrated into the lives of folks in the communities we serve and looked to as a leader, so it only makes sense that we don't just keep this internal, but we offer this to everyone,” Glenn said. “And why free? We're looking at this as an investment that we're making, not only here at MUSC but in the community to provide the highest quality of care for this community. So free means it's accessible; people can join, and they won't have registration fees as a barrier.”

Speakers will come from both within and outside of MUSC. For example, Marty Player, M.D., and physician assistant Amanda Jones, PA-C, members of the Family Medicine group at MUSC Health, will talk about LGBTQ issues in the context of primary care.

While earning her Master of Public Health degree, Jones studied health disparities that affect the LGBTQ population. Starting with data from a Tri-county survey conducted by the Alliance for Full Acceptance, in 2018, she looked at reasons for delays in care for LGBTQ community members. She found that lack of trust in providers and not knowing which providers would be safe havens led to many of the delays, with additional problems stemming from insurance coverage.

Jones and Player also pointed out that providers across specialties need to be comfortable treating members of the LGBTQ community. Player gave the example of a transgender male patient who was nervous about potential reactions from staff if he were to schedule a colonoscopy and the staff realized his genitalia didn’t match his outward appearance. Player made sure to contact the gastroenterologist to alert the doctor and staff to the situation, and the patient went ahead with the important preventive procedure.

Other summit speakers will talk about research, mental health, delays in breast cancer care and LGBTQ health in the South.

Glenn said many of the external speakers were excited about the opportunity to participate in an LGBTQ-focused event sponsored by an institution in the Deep South.

“People are interested in being involved. I think they feel like it's a really good thing to be a part of,” he said.

He hopes that busy clinicians will look at the schedule and make time to attend the sessions that pique their interests. The beauty of holding the summit in a virtual format means that people can attend as many sessions as their schedules will allow, without having to leave the office. And Glenn hopes that clinicians start to think of LGBTQ care not as the “topic of the moment” but as part of their work.

“I really do think all health care providers can be a part of this work and a part of providing this care,” he said. “It's not just for endocrinology. It's not just for primary care. It’s really across the board, meeting the needs of this community. And I want folks to maybe attend and get just a little bit more of a sense of how they can be a part of this and what their piece of the puzzle is.”