Shenandoah LGBTQ Center’s Health Program Expands Access to Affirming Care

STAUNTON — Through generous support from a grant from the Augusta Health Foundation, the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center has launched a landmark program aimed at improving health outcomes for the local LGBTQ+ population, the center announced in a news release.

Emma Neville has been hired as a community health worker at the center and will lead the program to provide health care navigation, health education and goal setting to improve coordination and access to care for our LGBTQ+ community.

Why is this program critical in this area?

Recent large-scale surveys and studies of the Southern LGBTQ+ population consistently cite health care inequities and significant barriers to accessing affirmative care. Within the LGBTQ community, transgender/nonbinary, BIPOC, and lower-income people report even higher levels of disparity. These disparities are associated with lower health outcomes, including higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and experiences of physical abuse.

LGBTQ+ members are also more likely to delay care due to cost or fear of discrimination and are less likely to seek preventive care.

Emma Neville, (she, her, her), Community Health Worker for Shenandoah LGBTQ Center.

Neville will work alongside members of the LGBTQ+ community to identify their health-related goals and connect them to the health system and community resources. In addition to providing direct support for clients to connect to services such as STI testing and prevention, mental health support, and gender-affirming care, the Community Health Worker will serve as a liaison and advocate for a safe and inclusive experience for LGBTQ+ patients . The program hopes to fully assess the landscape of LGBTQ+ medical and mental health providers in the Valley and develop a comprehensive database and referral network.

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