The event, led by national healthcare consulting firm Sellers Dorsey and local healthcare facility Mazzoni Center, and sponsored by the U.S. Census, Philly Pharmacy and Merck, will be held from 5-7 p.m. March 31 at Drexel University’s Geary Auditorium B, 245 N. 15th St.
Christopher Labonte, principal at Sellers Dorsey, said the idea for such an event arose during a discussion he had with Nurit Shein, executive director of Mazzoni Center, which is one of Sellers Dorsey’s pro-bono clients, about the upcoming LGBT Health Awareness Week, March 28-April 3.
“We decided to go ahead and convene this mainly because we thought there’s a void in the conversation,” Labonte said. “It’s a way to raise awareness among the LGBT community, but also public-policymakers are unaware of the disparities the LGBT community and the HIV/AIDS community faces.”
Panelists at the meeting will include Ernest Hopkins, director of federal affairs for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation; Rebecca Fox, director of the National Coalition for LBGT Health; and Mazzoni medical director Dr. Robert Winn.
Labonte said the discussion will center not only on the recently passed healthcare reform law — which was not inclusive of several pro-LGBT provisions that had been proposed — but also on the general disparities the LGBT community faces in healthcare and the need for cultural competency on the part of healthcare providers.
The meeting will be hosted by Drexel University’s newly launched Program for LGBT Health, and program director Dr. Randall Sell concurred with Labonte that dialogue about LGBT health issues is insufficient.
“There are a lot of issues that I think the community isn’t aware of because there just isn’t enough publicity,” Sell said. “I have a doctorate in policy, so I sit and think about it, but people are busy going to work every day and going about their lives and they just don’t have the time to think about these nuances.”
Labonte said the town-hall discussion should arm community members with information and motivation that will enable them to become active participants in closing the gap on LGBT health disparities.
“There’s always something you can do,” he said. “There are efforts that we as a community can undertake on both the local and state levels. And even for community members to just be open and honest with their healthcare providers is an important step to make sure that people are receiving the best quality of care. While the national healthcare reform seems so gargantuan, with people trying to find out which piece could apply to them, my hope with this is that anyone who attends will hear something, even just one thing, that they’ll be able to do. It’s not just awareness but also a call to action.”
For more information on the meeting, contact Blair Sirolli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jen Colletta can be reached at email@example.com.