Nov 17, 2022 A Judgment-Free Zone

doctors sitting a table

Members of the LGBTQIA community have access to focused services at a new center.

Members of the LGBTQIA community are often more reluctant than the general population to seek routine medical care.

Angela M. Adelizzi, DO, FACOI
Angela M. Adelizzi, DO, FACOI

“The start of all good health care is having good primary care,” says Angela M. Adelizzi, DO, FACOI, Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency at Community Medical Center (CMC). “Without it, people are missing out on basics such as receiving recommended screenings and addressing issues such as depression and anxiety. But disparities have developed in the LGBTQIA community.”

A new program called the PROUD Center at Community Medical Center aims to address these disparities. The center provides clinic hours specifically focused on LGBTQIA care. The clinic also partners with other RWJBarnabas Health facilities to provide services that require specialist involvement such as gender-affirming care.

Adam Kaplan, MD, FACP
Adam Kaplan, MD, FACP

Similar programs exist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) New Brunswick and RWJUH Somerset.

“Opening a PROUD clinic in Toms River provides an avenue for much-needed care in Ocean County,” says Adam Kaplan, MD, FACP, an internal medicine physician and a faculty physician for the Internal Medicine Residency program. “I’ve had many inquiries from patients, family members and loved ones—some from as far away as Philadelphia—asking if there are centers or clinics with a specialty focus on the LGBTQIA community closer to the Jersey Shore. We’re addressing an important need for patients.”

Providing a Safe Place

Reluctance to get care often hinges on perceived acceptance.

“Many patients in the LGBTQIA community have not had a positive experience with physicians and health care workers,” Dr. Adelizzi says. “They often hesitate to go to the doctor because they are sometimes judged or misunderstood.”

Providing care in a nonjudgmental way has long been a priority at CMC. “But we have to acknowledge there are gaps in care, commit to resolving them and work to make improvements happen,” Dr. Adelizzi says.

“A big part of access to quality health care for any minority community is offering a place where patients feel safe and can be open about themselves so they can establish relationships with providers,” Dr. Kaplan says. “A clinic like the PROUD Center is a judgment-free zone where patients can feel respected and seen.”

Medical residents in CMC’s Internal Medicine program will help provide services, gaining experience that can broadly facilitate better care. “Learning more about how to empathize, be open and create a safe space can be extrapolated to any population,” Dr. Kaplan says.

“Our overall goal is to provide excellent care,” Dr. Adelizzi says. “Our hope is to create an environment and space where we can provide all-inclusive care for the LGBTQIA community and continue to improve the lives of patients.”

To learn more, visit us on the web at Community Medical Center’s PROUD Center or call 732-557-2833.