Health Access Initiative Launches! Application is now open

Michigan Forward in Enhancing Research and Community Equity (MFierce) is launching the Health Access Initiative (HAI), a free quality-improvement program for local primary care clinics, health centers, and STI testing and treatment sites to better serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth. MFierce is focused on implementing structural change, or “upstream” strategies to improve access to care for LGBTQ+ youth. MFierce Project Director Triana Kazaleh Sirdenis explains, “The purpose of structural programs is to look at changing systems, policies, and larger environmental factors that ultimately determine how a health issue, like STIs, disproportionately impacts specific communities. We know there is limited access to health centers where LGBTQ+ people feel safe and comfortable. We also know there’s a lot of clinics where nurses, doctors, and front desk staff genuinely want additional training and resources to improve their care. The Health Access Initiative is matching the existing resources and expertise to those that need it.”

MFierce has launched an application for local clinics and health centers interested in joining the initiative. The Health Access Initiative will be available to sites in the larger Southeast Michigan area including the Detroit area, Flint, and Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti. Completed applications need to be submitted by Monday, February 8th at 5pm. The application can be accessed here: https://umich.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_2myTERUfmjJKDZ3

By offering free training and support to local clinic and testing sites, the Health Access Initiative aims to increase access to LGBTQ+ welcoming locations for STI testing and treatment as well as other primary care services. HAI has two components: Cultural responsiveness training and technical assistance and will begin in the summer of 2016, and continue through the fall of 2016. The trainings will be open to all medical, clerical, and administrative staff. Participants will receive a practice-based training on a tailored list of topics related to increasing cultural responsiveness to LGBTQ+ populations. Topics will include role playing with LGBTQ+ standardized patients, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), transition-related care, and others. MFierce is in the process of obtaining continuing education credits for these trainings. The technical assistance component will support sites in creating or improving policies and protocols that impact LGBTQ+ patient experiences. This could include more inclusive health intake forms, updating non-discrimination policies, creating a LGBTQ+ welcoming environment, and other changes. “The Health Access Initiative training builds on best practices. The training focuses on evidence-based strategies to strengthen the delivery of social and medical care to LGBT clients and is available for free to clinics across Southeast Michigan,” says SexLab Director Dr. José Bauermeister.

MFierce is funded through the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Approaches to Reducing STIs Program and utilizes a community-based participatory approach where decision-making and program planning are shared among all coalition members, including youth. Youth Advisory Board Member, Gage Gillard explains that being a part of MFierce has given him a “chance to come together with other youth advocates, public health researchers, and individuals from community organizations and health agencies to address structural change is a unique opportunity and experience. Being a part of the Youth Advisory Board has enabled me interact with other LGBTQ+ youth who all share something very special: the desire to address and change larger, structural barriers for the communities we are a part of.”

If you have questions, please contact the Project Director Triana Kazaleh Sirdenis at (734) 763-7260 or tsirdeni@umich.edu.

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