Nurse Practitioner Scarlett Le Blanc, APRN, FPN-C, joined our Dayton Medical Center team in December 2017. She comes to us with a strong background in public health and individualized patient care and is currently accepting new patients. Read on for a short Q & A about Scarlett’s experience and what surprised her most when she started at Equitas Health.
Q: What can you tell us about your professional background and your path to Equitas Health?
A: My professional background started as a patient care technician at Hospice of Dayton, which is where I cared for my first patient that was diagnosed with AIDS and at the end of their life. From that time it was in my heart to take the path to nursing, so I could help others diagnosed with HIV and AIDS who were without care or being wrongly judged and stereotyped. I became a public health nurse in 2008 and worked with Dr. Herchline both in the clinic and at Dayton Montgomery County Jail testing patients for STI’s, syphilis, and HIV. Through that experience I found out about AIDS Resource Center, which later became Equitas Health.
Q: What, if anything, has surprised you since coming on board at Equitas Health? Any new insights you didn’t anticipate?
A: The team approach here at Equitas Health is like no other I have experienced. Every staff member from the beginning to end of a patient’s visit with us plays an important role in the care our patients receive—all together working for each patient as individuals. I am proud to say I work for Equitas Health.
Q: What’s the most important thing you want your patients to know about your approach to care?
A: The most important thing I want patients to know is that their care is not my approach alone. When patients come to Equitas Health they receive a team-based approach to care, where we utilize every resource possible both within our facility and within our community to improve their quality of health, therefore improving their quality of life.
Q: Are there particular members of the Dayton area community that you want to encourage to seek out your services? Are there populations that you see underrepresented among current Dayton patients?
A: I want the community to know that I can see patients starting as young as age 16. Those that I see that are underrepresented are LGBTQ patients—with and without HIV.
Q: Can you tell us three things about yourself to help us get to know you better?
A: 1) I love gardening: flowers, produce, herbs, Bonsai trees. 2) Love hockey! Columbus Blue Jackets! 3) I spent most of my childhood, teen years, and younger adult life working on cars with my father.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the country’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, recently released its annual Health Equality Index (HEI), in which it recognized Equitas Health as a “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare.”
The HEI scores participating healthcare facilities on four categories: nondiscrimination and staff training, patient services and support, employee benefits and policies, and patient and community engagement. In order to garner the “Leader” designation, facilities must earn a perfect score in all categories.
The Index, which reviews healthcare facilities nationwide, highlighted profiles of two states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, in which it noted health care leaders playing a key role in expanding LGBTQ rights in the absence of broader political support. “Ohio is one of twenty-seven states in the U.S. that ranked in the lowest rated category, ‘High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality,’ in HRC’s 2017 annual State Equality Index,” the report notes, citing the lack of statewide non-discrimination and hate crime laws to protect sexual orientation and gender identity as well as existing laws that criminalize people living with HIV. “Fortunately,” the HEI continues, “LGBTQ Ohioans have several hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout the state that have embraced LGBTQ inclusion. With 27 facilities participating in the HEI, Ohio ranks 5th overall among states in the number of HEI participants and is tied for 3rd among states in the number of LGBTQ Healthcare Leaders, with 24 facilities. Many of these facilities are going well beyond the basics of non-discrimination policies and are on the cutting edge of LGBTQ policies and practice.” The HEI referred to Equitas Health as “one of the nation’s largest HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ health care organizations” and noted its presence among the health care agencies setting the standard for LGBTQ care in this critical region.
HRC Ohio State Manager Shawn Copeland echoed this praise of the active role healthcare providers are taking in the current political climate. “At a time when health care and the rights of LGBTQ people are under attack by the Trump-Pence Administration and state legislatures across the country, hundreds of top healthcare facilities are driving progress toward equality,” Copeland said. “These top-scoring facilities are not only establishing policies that save LGBTQ lives every day, they have become vocal advocates for equality in the public square. This year, we are heartened to see corporate champions, including many healthcare systems, not just speaking out, but also doubling down on their commitment to equality.”
This month Equitas Health’s newest Behavioral Health program, CAPIT, opened the doors to its first clients. CAPIT (Comprehensive Abuse Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment) is a culturally competent intimate partner violence treatment program for the LGBTQ community. Recognizing a need that has until now been left unmet, the judicial leadership of the Franklin County Municipal Court combined efforts with community advocates Stonewall Columbus, BRAVO, and Equitas Health to create a program that is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation and will refer LGBTQ domestic violence offenders to treatment rather than jail time.
Until now, abuser treatment programs have typically been developed for heterosexual cis men (men who were assigned male at birth) and offered in group settings catered to their needs. But studies show that violence exists throughout the spectrum of intimate relationships. While community organizations like BRAVO have led the charge to serve the targets of LGBTQ intimate partner violence, there are no known programs offering services to LGBTQ offenders, who are not likely to feel safe in treatment settings designed for and populated by heterosexual cis men.
“As the LGBTQ communities continue to evolve and emerge, so do their complex social and health related needs, some of which we haven’t known about, many of which we haven’t acknowledged,” Bill Hardy, President and CEO of Equitas Health explained at a recent press conference. “I don’t know why it’s taken us so long to recognize that LGBTQ intimate partner abuse offenders need a therapeutic environment in which to receive competent and relevant assessment, counseling, and support,” Hardy admitted, “but here we are today.”
The CAPIT program is modeled after the evidence-based Emerge abuser education groups, but modified by the Equitas Health team to address the specific needs of the LGBTQ community. Program participants will learn to define and identify abusive behavior, construct non-coercive strategies to replace that behavior, and build new long-lasting habits within a community of support.
We are thrilled to announce that Dwayne Steward will serve as the new Director of Prevention for Equitas Health.
In this role, Dwayne will create and implement an HIV prevention strategy to address continued rates of HIV infection in Ohio, including the disproportionate rates of HIV infection among youth, racial/ethnic minorities, and transgender and gender non-conforming communities of color. In addition he will help lead Equitas Health’s harm reduction efforts. Dwayne will be an in integral member of Equitas Health’s leadership team working across service lines to bring a cross-disciplinary approach to prevention.
Dwayne is a former Equitas Health employee who currently serves as the Director of Community Affairs at Fenway Health in Boston, MA. In his most recent role he worked with local, national and international stakeholders to engage with the research, training, education and policy division of the Fenway Institute. Dwayne brings significant experience in health, advocacy and research to his new role. His work has focused largely around HIV, youth, and the LGBTQ community. Dwayne’s commitment to social justice has been at the heart of his extensive experience with non-profits and corporate agencies through which he has worked to build communities of inclusion, advance health equity, and break down institutional oppression.
Prior to his move to Boston, Dwayne served as an active member and leader within Columbus’ LGBTQ community. He is a writer, speaker, activist, and journalist. Dwayne’s first day as Director of Prevention will be June 18.
It’s been a busy and productive 2018 for the Equitas Health Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity. So far this year, Institute staff have conducted 41 trainings and reached over 1400 people at places like the Ohio Athletic Trainers Association, Community Support Services, and Columbus State Community College. Shown here, Institute Director Julia Applegate pauses a training at the Ohio State University College of Medicine for a selfie with students. Julia, and Institute staff members Karen Nicosia and Ramona Peel have also been active presenting posters and workshops at conferences around the country. From the SYNC conference in Washington DC, to the LGBT Health Workforce Conference in New York City, the National Network of Public Health Institutes Conference in New Orleans, and the Society for Public Health Education right here in Columbus, the Institute is learning about the latest developments in the field, and also sharing their insights and research with their fellow professionals.
In addition, the Institute is preparing to partner with Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and Ohio University’s LGBT Center on Rural Voices: Caring for Trans and Gender Diverse Communities, a day-long summit on June 7 in Athens, Ohio for health and social service professionals. The focus of the summit is improving access to care and the quality of care for trans folks living in rural areas. Finally, the Institute has secured a multi-year grant from the Ohio Department of Health to educate lesbian and bisexual cis women, trans women, trans men, and non-binary people with breast tissue about their risk for breast cancer and encourage them to get screened by a culturally humble provider. Across Ohio and beyond, the Institute is working hard to create more welcoming and inclusive environments for the LGBTQ community. Save the date for our Transforming Care Conference, October 18-19, 2018 in Columbus.
Equitas Health’s Chief Pharmacy Officer, Aaron Clark, R.Ph., PharmD, AAHIVP, is the 2018 recipient of The Ohio Pharmacists Association’s (OPA’s) Upsher-Smith Excellence in Innovation Award. The award honors pharmacists who have demonstrated innovative pharmacy practices resulting in improved patient care by providing effective patient counseling.
Aaron developed a specialized and personalized counseling program for the pharmacists at Equitas Health Pharmacy, engaging patients to take an active role in their healthcare. To ensure patients understand their medications and are working toward the best possible outcomes, he implemented a plan to follow up with patients taking specialty medications. He is also working with local leadership to help battle the opiate crisis by providing access to naloxone, an overdose reversal medication.
“Aaron Clark is one of many pharmacists who have the passion to provide superior healthcare to the patients of Ohio. His drive to develop patient services makes him a truly valued member of our pharmacy community and the community in which he practices,” said Ernest Boyd, OPA Executive Director.
Aaron has been on our team since 2012, when he led our efforts to open our first pharmacy, and we know the excellence he brings to our integrated care model! We are thrilled for this recognition of his great work on behalf of our patients.
Earlier this month, Equitas Health hosted the 12th annual Positive Youth Leadership Summit with the goal of preparing and empowering HIV positive young people from across the region to advocate for themselves and their communities. Twenty-eight youth gathered in Columbus, traveling from Cleveland, Dayton, Medina, Canton, and Indianapolis for the three-day event.
On Friday, May 4 participants, volunteers, and staff from Equitas Health’s MPowerment Programs—Toledo Mpowerment, Mu Crew, GCMC, and ABBA—gathered at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve in Yellow Springs for a three-day retreat with the mission to foster a happy, healthy, united community for gay and bisexual men and trans individuals ages 18-29 through education and empowerment. Approximately 50 participants engaged in team building exercises, STI/HIV education and testing, and life-story telling. Speakers shared stories of surviving rape and sexual assault, recovering from addiction, homelessness, and fear of coming out. While the weekend included safer sex messages, education and supplies, MPowerment Coordinator Ben Adams noted the mental health benefits of the weekend. “Life can be stressful for everyone,” said Adams, “but young MSM [men who have sex with men] especially tend to have high stress levels, stemming from a wide variety of factors. Giving individuals the chance to re-center for the weekend and take a mental break is a really big benefit to attendees.”
The Equitas Health dentistry team held two Give Kids a Smile events in recent months. The team partnered with East End Community Services and Ruskin Elementary school in Dayton for their Family Night on February 8, where they provided oral health education and handed out over 100 oral hygiene kits to children and their families. In addition, dentistry staff provided 17 free dental exams and 16 fluoride varnish applications. On Saturday April 20th the dentistry team partnered with the Eldon & Elsie Ward Family YMCA in Columbus’ King-Lincoln neighborhood, for their Healthy Kids Day, providing oral hygiene education and kits to 80 children.
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LGBT Family Seminar and Free Legal Clinic
MAY 30 | Columbus
Volunteer attorneys will assist clients with living wills, health care powers of attorney, and nominations of guardian for minor children. Equitas Health, 4400 N. High St., Suite 300. 6-8PM.
Rural Voices Summit
JUNE 7| Athens
Join us for a day-long summit for health and social service professionals to learn how to improve care for transgender and gender diverse people living in rural America. Reserve your spot today as space is limited.
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As hundreds walked and ran in the Central Ohio AIDS Walk, volunteer Art Hanthorn was there at the start and finish-line to help keep things moving smoothly. Read More
Columbus Dispatch, Letter: Columbus’ tolerance should impress Amazon
Scott Leibowitz, medical director of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s THRIVE program, cites Equitas Health among the reasons why Amazon exec Jeff Bezos should choose Columbus if he’s serious about looking for an LGBTQ-friendly city for the company’s second home. Read More