Jun 30, 2020

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island certifies five new LGBTQ Safe Zones committed to affirming and inclusive health care

PROVIDENCE, RI (June 30, 2020) – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has certified five Providence-based organizations across multiple specialties as BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zones. Several of these new Safe Zones are the first of their kind to be certified by BCBSRI, including those that serve individuals who have experienced sexual assault, domestic abuse, substance use disorders, and pelvic rehabilitation. This new wave of Safe Zone providers joins more than two dozen other practices statewide providing safe, affirming and inclusive care to the LGBTQ community.

“Unfortunately we know that great disparities still exist for members of the LGBTQ community in receiving equitable healthcare,” said Guillaume Bagal, diversity and inclusion lead at BCBSRI. “Seeing a Safe Zone seal at a provider’s office signifies that this is a place where you will receive care with no fear of discrimination, judgement or abuse.”

Since 2016, BCBSRI has certified more than 25 LGBTQ Safe Zones in Rhode Island to help ensure the LGBTQ community can find the care they need. The newest BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone providers joining the list include:

  • Day One: This community agency addresses issues of sexual assault by providing treatment, intervention, education, advocacy and prevention services to Rhode Islanders of all ages—from preschool children to seniors. The agency also advocates for public policy initiatives and systemic changes that positively impact how Rhode Island families handle sexual abuse cases.
  • Open Door Health: As the first LGBTQIA+ focused health center in Rhode Island, the clinic’s goal is to provide cutting-edge medical care in a respectful, accepting and affirming manner to its patients. With a focus on filling unmet needs for primary care and sexual health services, staff members are trained to provide comprehensive primary care and sexual health services, including HIV primary care and gender-affirming care.
  • Sojourner House: This agency serves battered adults and their children and helps to rebuild their lives, piece by piece, through support groups, emergency shelter, transitional housing, sexual health advocacy, emotional support and referrals to more than 50 other community partners providing additional assistance. Sojourner House also offers specialized services to teach important information on domestic abuse, teen violence, HIV/AIDS prevention, elder abuse and LGBTQ partner abuse.
  • VICTA: This privately owned outpatient substance abuse and mental health treatment program was founded by people who worked in the field for a long time and wanted to use their expertise to make a difference in the lives of others. The comprehensive therapeutic environment includes medication-assisted treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, mental health treatment and primary care services. These services are designed to support the recovery, health and wellbeing of the people and families served, while enhancing quality of life, reducing symptoms or needs and building resilience, restoring and improving functioning, and supporting integration into the community.
  • Pelvic Rehabilitation Services at The Miriam Hospital: This center provides highly specialized areas of physical therapy that address many different disorders relating to the pelvis including joints, muscles and nerves. Experienced staff, many of whom are board-certified clinical specialists, evaluate problems related to urination, defecation, sexual dysfunction, pelvic pain and prenatal/postpartum issues.

Certification requirements for the BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone program include staff training specific to the care of LGBTQ patients, protection for patients and staff from discrimination based on gender identity or expression, gender neutral bathrooms, inclusive forms and procedures, and a public commitment to connecting with and serving the LGBTQ community. To learn more about BCBSRI’s LGBTQ Safe Zone program or if you are a provider or practice looking to become certified as a BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone, visit bcbsri.com/safezones.

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