Create Equity in Health Care

June 13th, 2019

The following article, written by Grand View Health cancer surgeon Monique Gary, DO, first appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on June 9, 2019.

One area where LGBTQ inequity still exists is health care. HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment remain a high priority for our community, but we need to return to the basics: preventive care for our community, especially for those most on the margins. We know, and data support, that people who are both LGBTQ and members of a racial or ethnic minority will often face the highest level of health disparities. We are at a higher risk for substance use, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), cancers, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, bullying, isolation, rejection, anxiety, depression, and suicide as compared with both the general population and their straight racial and ethnic counterparts. We receive poor quality of care due to stigma, lack of health care providers’ awareness, and insensitivity to the unique needs of this community.

As a cancer surgeon and an educator, I know the battle for health equity begins with me. I take personal responsibility and pride in doing the work in medical education to make sure that future physicians and health providers are competent, caring, affirming, and focused on the whole of a patient, and not just their disease or perceived at-risk health issue. On a larger scale, health systems need better integration and coordination of primary care and preventative services like mammography, gynecologic exams, colon cancer screening, and mental health services.

Monique Gary is a breast surgical oncologist and medical director of the Grand View Health/Penn Cancer Network Cancer Program in Sellersville.