Robertwood Johnson University Hospital Somerset plans to expand LGBTQIA healthcare services

Published Friday, June 8, 2018

By:Rebecca Smith

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset - the first hospital in the state to offer specialized primary health care services for the LGBTQIA community - is expanding its PROUD Family Health center. PROUD Family Health will move this summer to a new space with expanded hours and additional staff as well as increased access to medical specialists. The announcement was made today during a visit by New Jersey's Commissioner of Health Shereef Elnahal, who toured PROUD Family Health and met with patients and care providers.

"Providing high quality, culturally competent healthcare to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is a priority of the Murphy Administration, and I want to commend the staff and leadership at the PROUD Family Health and at RWJ Somerset for launching and expanding this important and exceptional center," Commissioner Elnahal said.

"I learned a lot from the patients and staff today about the importance of delivering unbiased, compassionate and clinically appropriate services they need and deserve," said the Commissioner, who spent part of the meeting in a roundtable discussion with PROUD staff and consumers. "For far too long, LGBT health - especially the unique healthcare needs of our transgender residents - has been an afterthought in the health care community. The services provided at the PROUD Family Health are an example worthy of replicating."

PROUD Family Health, which opened in January 2017 in the hospital's Somerset Family Practice, provides services tailored to meet the unique health care needs of the LGBTQIA community in a safe, supportive environment. Services include primary medical care for children and adults, hormone therapy and monitoring, HIV care, health education, counseling, support groups and referrals for specialty services such as behavioral health services.

The center's new space will be in a dedicated office suite just across the hall from its current location on the hospital's campus. It is currently open Mondays from 6 to 9 p.m. but will expand to offer appointments three full days a week.  In addition, the hospital is hiring an advanced practice nurse for the center and a patient navigator who will help connect patients with the resources they need and conduct community outreach and health education.

"We opened PROUD Family Health because we recognized that the health care needs of the LGBTQIA community were not being met and in many cases, LGBTQIA individuals were traveling outside of New Jersey for their medical care," said Tony Cava, president, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset.

"Patients have come to us from all across the state because they know that we offer professional, compassionate care and treat all our patients with the respect and dignity they deserve - without judgment. We are excited to expand our program and continue to lead the way in LGBTQIA health care in New Jersey."

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset has been nationally recognized for providing culturally competent care and reducing health care disparities. The Human Rights Campaign has honored the hospital as a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality.

The name for PROUD Family Health derives from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset's PROUD Business Resource Group, a group of employees at the hospital who help create a positive working environment for LGBTQIA employees and who also lead LGBTQIA outreach and advocacy efforts. PROUD stands for Promoting Respect, Outreach, Understanding and Dignity.

For more information about PROUD Family Health or to schedule an appointment, call 1-855- PROUD-FH (1-855-776-8334).

To learn more about Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, visit www.rwjbh.org/somerset.

About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset Located in Somerville, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, is a nationally accredited, 355-bed regional hospital providing comprehensive emergency, medical/surgical, behavioral health and rehabilitative services to central New Jersey residents.  As a designated teaching hospital of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the hospital maintains a family medicine residency program with 21 residents.

RWJUH Somerset has earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety including the prestigious MagnetR Award for Nursing Excellence. As the first hospital in New Jersey to offer primary health care services for the LGBTQIA community, RWJUH Somerset has been honored as a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign.

The Steeplechase Cancer at RWJUH Somerset, a clinical research affiliate of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, has been designated as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer.