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UIHC LGBTQ clinic attracts new patients

BY MURIEL KONNE | AUGUST 26, 2013 5:00 AM

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Ten months after the unveiling of the University of Iowa Health Care Iowa River Landing facility, its LGBTQ clinic has seen significant growth in the number of patients — many of whom travel from across the state to receive care.

“Most of the patients who we’re seeing are brand-new patients to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics,” said UI Clinical Assistant Professor Katherine Imborek, a family-medicine physician and one of the clinic’s cofounders.

Imborek and UI internal medicine Clinical Professor Nicole Nisly teamed up to start the now first of its kind in the state of Iowa.

The clinic received support from UI President Sally Mason, the administration, and various departments in UI Health Care.

Nisly and Imborek are joined by a highly trained team of health-care providers and staff. The team, consisting of nurses, pediatric endocrinologists, and pharmacist, has undergone training through the Safe Zone project, a campus-wide program aimed at providing a message of inclusion, affirmation, and support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.

Patients receive various care, some of which are not FDA approved.

“We give testosterone to men, we give estrogen to women in a lot of different situations,” Imborek said. “So we know how the medicine works; we know what the side effects and risks are.”

The doctors also look to a set of guidelines or “position statements” set forth by the American Medical Association on how to best take care of patients.

“So their statement was that the research shows in the case of folks that identified as gender non-conforming, transgender, helping them transition with hormones or surgery, or clothing, or voice therapy, is a medical necessity, according to Dr. Nisly.

Research also shows that there’s significant health disparities between the LGBT community and the general population.

“What the research doesn’t answer is how do you fix that how do you end health disparities, Nisly said in an interview. “So this is our attempt to take the next step and say if we have a clinic that is designated, that is welcoming, that people are trained, that we have the intention to provide the very best care, we can teach medical students, we can teach the next generation.”

Vicki Byars, a 46-year-old transgender patient of Dr. Nisly, says it took her twenty years to finally undergo her transformation.

“I didn’t know that anybody will ever take me seriously, said Vicki. “I thought I’d be miserable for the rest of my life and I was moved to tears on how kind these people are and that kind of goodwill still existed.”

Vicki will soon receive her first estrogen patch, a step she says she is very excited for.

“We have two goals. Medium goal is to teach people how to take better care of their LGBTQ population, said Dr. Nisly, and create a clinic that is welcoming well-trained and prepared.”


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