“The Gateway” Newsletter – October 2018

The Gateway: Your Connection to Welcoming Healthcare Services

MEET OUR PROVIDER: Primary Care Physician, Dr. Amy Seese

Dr. Amy Seese headshotDr. Amy Seese, DO, MPH joined our Dayton Medical Center team this summer and we are thrilled to have her on board. We asked her a few questions to get to know her and learned about what brought her to Equitas Health. We also learned the names of her (five!) pets. Read on to learn more!

Q: What brought you to Equitas Health?

A: I first encountered Equitas Health doing HIV screenings at a few public events in the Dayton area, so I was somewhat familiar with its mission. I looked further into the organization and it happened to be hiring a primary care physician around the time I was finishing residency. The LGBTQ community has been a special interest of mine as far as patient populations, so it turned out to be a great fit.

Q: What has surprised you most since starting work at Equitas Health?

A: I don’t know that anything has been too surprising, but I have definitely been impressed with the number of services Equitas Health is able to offer patients under one roof. It’s unusual for a patient to be able to see primary care, infectious disease, behavioral health, dentistry, case management and have a pharmacy all in the same place.

Q: Do you have a particular expertise, interest, or passion within your field?

A: I’m passionate about transgender care. Trans patients have long been marginalized, and in a city like Dayton there aren’t a lot of providers with expertise in hormone therapy or even culturally competent care. So I’m excited for that.

Q: Is there a particular group (or groups) you want to encourage to seek your services?

A: Trans patients, as I mentioned above. Additionally, though, I haven’t seen very many queer women seeking services yet, so if you’re out there and need a family physician, please don’t hesitate!

Q: What are three things (that don’t have to do with healthcare) we might be interested to know about you?

A: I have 2 dogs (Riley and Jac), 2 cats (Addison and Frankie) and a fish (Waldo). I enjoy traveling and in the past year have gone to Nicaragua, Germany, Austria and Italy. I drink a lot of black coffee.

U=U: A new Era of Testing, Prevention, and Treatment

U=U GIFWe are living through a new era of HIV treatment and prevention. With the results of the “Partner 2” study released this summer, we can now say, more confidently than ever, that Undetectable really does equal Untransmittable: a person living with HIV who has achieved viral suppression (HIV no longer detectable) cannot transmit the virus to a sexual partner.

What does this new era look like?

In the new era, timely HIV-Testing means the start of a normal, healthy life, no matter what the result. The critical question no longer lies between positive and negative, but between knowing and not knowing. A positive result means a quick start to treatment that will, if maintained, render the virus irrelevant. A negative result offers the opportunity to start a once-daily PrEP medication, and live HIV-risk-free.

In the new era, treatment is prevention. U=U means that when we commit to offering comprehensive HIV treatment, we are also decreasing the spread of HIV in our community.

  • Linkage to Care Specialist Jeremy Drach joined our Dayton Medical Center team in April. His first 90 days in the position included guiding 11 patients, newly diagnosed with HIV, through the process of initiating and maintaining treatment and medication. As of today, all 11 patients are undetectable: poised to live long, healthy lives without fear of transmitting the virus to a sexual partner.

In the new era, there is no room for stigma. HIV is now a chronic illness, that—like asthma or diabetes—we cannot yet cure, but we can effectively manage. When we spread the news that U=U, we chip away at the fear and ignorance that underwrite laws and attitudes which criminalize and shame. When we spread the word that U=U, we build the world in which we want to live.

ADVOCACY: Equitas Health Votes!

#EquitasHealthVotes Voting for our Lives

Stop! Don’t read another word of this newsletter until you go to and make sure your voter registration is active. You don’t want to find out you’ve been purged from the voter rolls when you show up to cast your ballot on November 9. The registration deadline is Tuesday, October 9, 11:59PM.

We may not be electing a president this November, but here in Ohio we are electing a senator, 16 members of Congress, a governor and 5 other state officials, a State Board of Education, 99 Ohio House seats, 17 Ohio Senate seats, 2 Ohio Supreme Court Justices, 23 Ohio District Courts of Appeals judges, and many municipal officials and local trial court judges–all of whom make or influence laws and policies that directly affect our access to affordable health care, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, racial justice, and reproductive rights.

That’s why we’re taking this election so seriously.

At the start of September we added a new position to our Advocacy team when we welcomed Katy Shanahan aboard to serve as Advocacy Manager. Through her previous work on candidate and issue campaigns, Katy has built a commitment to ensuring that our fundamental constitutional right to vote is protected and all eligible voters have fair and free access to the ballot box. Katy holds a law degree from the OSU Moritz School of Law and an M.A. in Public Policy and Management from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

This Fall, Katy is putting her campaign experience to work heading up our voter registration and mobilization efforts. We’ve transformed our 17 offices into voter registration sites and are encouraging our patients and clients to register to vote by Ohio’s October 9 deadline.

Equitas Health is also partnering with Equality Ohio, the Human Rights Campaign, Big Gay Dance Party, Prizm, and TruMedia to energize LGBTQ voters. With only 30% of eligible Ohio citizens likely to vote in a midterm election, the LGBTQ community has the opportunity to make a big impact if we #ComeOutToVote in big numbers.

Want to join our voter mobilization efforts? Here are some things you can do:

  1. Register by OCT 9 at any Equitas Health office or by visiting
  2. Remind your neighbors about the OCT 9 registration deadline: stop by any Equitas Health office, and pick up #EquitasHealthVotes Yard Signs and Door Hangers.
  3. Join us on OCT 11, National Coming Out Day, for #ComeOutToVote, a party for equality-minded voters in the parking lot of the Franklin County Board of Elections with a fantastic line-up of entertainers and speakers.
  4. Visit for more information about the upcoming election and registering to vote.

And of course, #ComeOutToVote on (or before) November 9!

INSTITUTE: Transforming Care Conference

Transforming Care Conference on LGBTQ Health Equity & HIV/AIDSThe Equitas Health Institute team is deep in the work of preparing for what has become the most comprehensive HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ health equity forum in the nation: the Transforming Care Conference (TCC). This year’s conference will bring together 500 participants for two days of workshops and networking at the Fawcett Center in Columbus on October 18 & 19.

Register now! Pre-registration for TCC ends on Wednesday, October 10.

The 2018 TCC theme recalls the Denver Principles, a bill of rights presented by a group of AIDS activists who stormed the closing ceremony of the 5th annual Lesbian and Gay Health Conference in 1983, holding a banner that read “Fighting for Our Lives.” The Denver principles outlined the rights of people living with HIV, including the right to full and satisfying sex lives, the right to quality medical treatment administered free of discrimination or stigma, the right to full explanations of all medical procedures and the risks involved, the right to privacy and confidentiality, and the “right to die—and LIVE—in dignity.”

We have chosen the theme “Fighting for Our Lives” for this year’s TCC to pay homage to the work of advocates in the past. We also intend the conference to highlight the urgent need—in this time of backlash against HIV/AIDS & LGBTQ health equity—to stand up, speak up, and fight for our fundamental rights through advocacy, activism, providing and obtaining comprehensive health care for our community, and standing in solidarity with all marginalized communities.

Transforming Care will feature plenary speakers Sarah McBride, National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign;  Scott A. Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal; Miriam Yeung, former Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum; and Ken Williams, the creative force behind the award winning, queer-conscious, video blog, Ken Like Barbie. Participants will choose from more than 75 workshops in tracks, including Clinical/Medical, Mental & Behavioral Health, Advocacy & Community Engagement, Public Health/Prevention, Cultural Humility, and Access to Care.

Visit the Transforming Care Conference website to:

  • Register for one or both days,
  • Access a full schedule of workshops,
  • Read speaker and presenter bios,
  • Learn about opportunities to volunteer,
  • Become a TCC Sponsor

MEDICAL: The Integrated Approach – Care Coordinators Now at all Medical Centers

With so much happening under one roof at our Medical Centers, Equitas Health is making some changes to ensure that our patients encounter an integrated, team-based approach to healthcare that puts their needs at the center of the experience. Each of our Medical Centers now has a Retention Specialist, a Behavioral Health Specialist, and a Care Coordinator, who work with providers to help patients:

  • maintain consistent treatment,
  • navigate healthcare red tape,
  • identify their behavioral health needs and connect with care that serves the whole person.

Why does integrating behavioral health into medical care matter?

Integrating behavioral health into medical care is critical to maintaining patients’ overall health because so much of what determines our health originates from non-medical factors.

  • 50% of a person’s health outcomes stem from the economic and social conditions—also known as “social determinants”—where a person lives, works, and plays; their ability to access and afford healthcare and healthy food; their experience of racism, sexism, homophobia, gender oppression, etc.
  • 30% of health outcomes originate in health-related activities and behaviors, including use of tobacco products, living with substance use disorders, and daily nutrition and exercise.

Given that so much of our overall health stems from behaviors and socioeconomic factors, integrating case management and counseling services as a routine part of patient care is an essential component of improving health outcomes.

Why are we prioritizing healthcare navigation and retention?

Behavioral health is integral to maintaining overall health.

  • HIV Treatment: Maintaining consistent healthcare regimens is key to preventing and treating HIV. Currently 87% of people who receive HIV treatment at Equitas Health have achieved viral suppression, compared to 49% nationally. We are proud of this success and poised to push higher. Providing patient retention and navigation services will allow us to help even more people living with HIV achieve viral suppression–living unencumbered by the virus and the fear of transmitting it to a sexual partner.
  • HIV Prevention: For our PrEP patients, retention is essential to the effectiveness of their HIV prevention treatment. The PrEP regimen requires strict prescription adherence and regular visits with a provider for lab work, monitoring, and refills. Supporting retention and healthcare navigation is the necessary intervention that turns the hypothetical ability to prevent HIV with a once-daily pill into the practical reality of living HIV-risk-free.
  • LGBTQ Health: LGBTQ individuals are almost 3 times more likely than others to experience mental illness. Confronting stigma and prejudice, harboring the fear of coming out, and withstanding the pressure not to are all factors that result in increased vulnerability to depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, thoughts of suicide, and substance abuse. We would not be providing culturally competent care to our LGBTQ patients if we did not integrate medical and behavioral health services.
  • Beyond HIV & LGBTQ: Equitas Health seeks to care for the whole person, including their full range of mental and emotional being. Our team-based approach seeks to partner with each patient to identify and prioritize their health needs and goals regardless of category. Because there is no health without mental health.

Ultimately, we recognize that medical care is only as effective as any given individual’s ability to understand and engage with it. If we are to help you achieve your desired health goals, we must provide the support to make you the most successful patient you can be.


OUTREACH: Pride Season Ends with Akron Family Black Pride

Pride2018-Logo SquareWhat a summer of Pride! Over the last four months, we celebrated with you in Akron, Athens, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lancaster, Mansfield, Newark, Portsmouth, Toledo, Yellow Springs, and Youngstown, finishing off the season at Black Family Pride in Akron. We’re storing away our beads and sunblock for the cold months ahead, but we will carry with us all of the people we met this summer. Hearing your stories—your questions about PrEP, your LGBTQ health care challenges, your need for trans health services around the state—helps us learn how to serve our community better. Thank you for the inspiration and for making Ohio pulse with a joyful, vibrant pride.


Please contact the location to learn more about their services or schedule an appointment:

PREVENTION: Mozaic Grand Opening

You be you. We'll provide the space. Mozaic Grand OpeningPlease join us on October 12 for the Grand Opening of Ohio’s first wellness program and community space for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary youth and young adults of color: Mozaic! Mozaic is a Centers for Disease Control-funded program that seeks to address the rising rates of HIV among trans folks of color by creating a welcoming and supportive community within which young trans and gender non-conforming people can explore identity, foster mentoring relationships, and develop critical HIV/STI prevention practices. The Mozaic team has a full day of events planned (8:30AM – 10PM!) for the Grand Opening, including an 8:30AM interfaith blessing of the space, 3PM Ribbon Cutting, ongoing workshops (yoga, trans masculinity, merengue/salsa, and more!), visits from beloved local celebs, and of course plenty of food and

entertainment. Visit our event page for more information!

DENTAL: Appointments Available in Dayton

Dental provider and patientDo you look in the mirror and wish for a brighter smile? Got a tooth that’s bothering you? Have you been putting off inquiring about dentures? Our Dayton Dentistry team has appointments available as early as this week! From preventative exams, x-rays, and screenings, to fillings, crowns, dentures, extractions and root canals, we are ready to meet the full range of your dental health needs. Our dental clinics accept all major forms of public and private insurance and use a sliding scale fee for those without insurance or adequate coverage. Call today to schedule and appointment: (937) 853-3650.

DEVELOPMENT: Masquerage to Transform Historic Dayton Transportation Center

Masquerage LogoMasquerage is Equitas Health’s annual “Party of Parties for a Cause.” Since Masquerage’s inception in 2002, this masked extravaganza has become the fastest growing, must-be-seen-at event in Dayton, bringing hundreds of people together for a magnificent evening of music, dancing, and decadence. This year the Equitas Health Dayton Associate Board and Development team are collaborating with the City of Dayton to transform the long-vacant Dayton Transportation Center Garage into a one-night-only venue for our inclusive and welcoming party experience to the LGBTQ and ally community. General Admission and Red Ribbon Lounge tickets on sale now!

Equitas Health Pharmacist receives Preceptor of the Year Award

Pharmacist Jacquelyn Risner-Kissel, PharmD, RPh, AAHIVP was named Preceptor of the Year at The Ohio State University Doctoral Convocation and White Coat Ceremony last month. We are thankful to have Jacquelyn’s expertise on our team, proud of her commitment to supporting those entering the field, and thankful that tomorrow’s pharmacists are learning their trade in environments like our Short North Pharmacy, which promote LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS health equity.

HUMAN RESOURCES: Employee Benefits Now Include Coverage of Trans Health Services

Trans Health patient and providerWe are proud to announce that as of August 1, Equitas Health offers coverage of trans health services as part of our employee benefits package. We recognize that procedures such as facial feminization or masculinization, which are generally declined by employers and insurers as cosmetic, are actually a matter of safety and identity alignment. Our message to trans employees is clear: we hear you! And to those in the trans community, looking for employment: you are welcome here!

PHARMACY: Transfer Your Prescriptions and Help Fund Essential Prevention & Wellness Programs

If you have a prescription insurance plan, you’re probably used to paying a set co-pay for your prescriptions. You might not even think about what the drug actually costs, who’s paying for it, and where that money goes. As with any retail purchase, the price of your medication is split between the drug manufacturer, intermediaries, and the store where you buy it. That’s why transferring your prescriptions to Equitas Health Pharmacy can make a huge difference. When you fill your prescriptions at our community pharmacies, we reinvest 100% of our profit directly back into our health services. Your purchase helps us provide medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services for those who do not have adequate health insurance. You also allow us to promote LGBTQ wellness with campaigns like I Deserve Access To A Mammogram, and continue our HIV prevention work with programs like Mozaic and


Mozaic Grand Opening (Columbus) | OCT 12

Transforming Care Conference (Columbus) | OCT 18-19

Name & Gender Change Clinic (Toledo) | OCT 24

Masquerage (Dayton) | OCT 26

Name & Gender Change Clinic (Gambier) | NOV 7

Save the Date: RED Dayton | APR 13, 2019


In The News

The Columbus Dispatch: Clean needle initiative to add new limitations
9/26/2018 – Beginning in October, clients of Equitas Health’s Safe Point program will transition from needle access to needle exchange. The change comes as part of a concession made by Equitas Health to receive funding from the city of Columbus and Franklin County.NBC4

WHCM-TV Columbus: Charity auction raises $1 million at Columbus Art Museum
9/16/2018 – With final donations still being received & counted, the Art for Life charity art auction is on track to set a new fundraising record of $1 million for Equitas Health, a local nonprofit community-based healthcare system specializing in LGBTQ & HIV care, according to a press release from the charity.

The Columbus Dispatch: Mimi Rivard, Nurse practitioner’s compassion helps keep patients from being marginalized
9/2018 – Nurse Practitioner Mimi Rivard, MSN, CNP honored as one of the Columbus Dispatch 2018 Everyday Heroes for her work providing quality and compassionate care to members of the trans community.

WOSU Radio: Curious Cbus: Why Does Columbus Have So Many LGBTQ People?
8/28/2018 –  A 2015 Gallup poll put Columbus in the top 15 of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas with 4.3 percent of its population identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Equitas Health Institute Director Julia Applegate helps answer why.

The Washington Post: An Ohio judge blocked transgender teens’ new names, so they set out to change the system
8/14/2018 – Washington Post’s Deanna Paul reports on Elliott Whitaker and Jamie Shaul’s class-action lawsuit against Judge Joseph Kirby and explores the challenges trans Ohioans face when pursuing legal name and gender changes.

The Columbus Dispatch: Was CVS favored by state in multimillion-dollar deal to provide HIV drugs?
7/29/2018 – Equitas Health President and CEO Bill Hardy and Chief Pharmacy Officer Aaron Clark speak out against a State of Ohio contract to CVS that allows the national pharmacy company not only to control federal money for HIV drugs in Ohio, but also to require patients to buy their medicine only at CVS pharmacies.

The Daily Caller: Ohio Health Care Company Expands Coverage for Transgender Employees
7/12/2018 – Ohio’s biggest health care company for transgender persons announced Wednesday that it will expand coverage for its employees with gender dysphoria to include a slew of cosmetic procedures.“As a nonprofit healthcare system we are proud to be leading on this front,” Equitas Health President Bill Hardy said.