Hahnemann launches fellowship for care of trans patients

A local hospital last month launched a training program focused on medical and surgical procedures for transgender patients.

Hahnemann University Hospital’s new one-year Transgender Fellowship Training Program will provide candidates with training and education in major reconstructive cases, including pre- and post-operative care. Hahnemann’s program is the first of its kind in the city and the second in the nation; Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City announced the country’s first transgender surgery and psychiatric medical fellowships this summer.

“Hahnemann University Hospital prides itself on being a pioneer in medical research and advancement,” Hahnemann CEO Michael P. Halter said in a statement. “Creating a Transgender Fellowship Training Program is the next chapter in continuing a legacy of excellence.”

Under the direction of Dr. Kathy L. Rumer, Hahnemann’s Transgender Surgery Program director, fellows will learn about an assortment of male-to-female and female-to-male gender-affirming surgeries. Additionally, they will learn about facial surgeries, breast augmentation, chest masculinization and body-contouring, Rumer said. 

Rumer said she hopes to train fellows to not only perform surgical procedures but to also relate to patients in pre- and post-operative care. This includes working with patients’ primary-care doctors. 

“This is a patient population that has, for years, been ignored by the medical community and, just recently, the medical community is beginning to embrace it, so we want to make sure we are training people who are compassionate to the needs of transgender patients,” Rumer said.

The doctor noted that trans patients are usually on a wait list for several years before they receive gender-confirming surgeries. She said she hopes fellows will stay onboard at Hahnemann to help grow the practice and treat more patients.

“In my opinion, if you have gender dysphoria to the point where you want to harm yourself, waiting two years to have the surgeries performed is not health care,” she said. “One of our motivating factors to start the program was to adequately train physicians so we can help to treat these patients to pull in the pipeline.” 

Qualified candidates are required to complete an ACGME-approved urological-surgery or plastic-surgery residency to enroll in the fellowship. For more information, call Hahnemann University Hospital’s fellowship coordinator at 215-762-7171.