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2018 MIDWEST LGBTQ HEALTH SYMPOSIUM 'Assessment for Women and People with a Cervix' report unveiled
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2018-09-19

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During the fourth annual Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium, a report, "#ChicagoHealthLooksLike: Results of a Chicago-wide Community Needs and Strengths Assessment for Women and People with a Cervix," was unveiled Sept. 14 at one of the afternoon breakout sessions.

The symposium—presented by Howard Brown Health ( HBH ) and the Center for Education, Research and Advocacy—was moved from the JW Marriott Hotel to Malcolm X College in solidarity with the hotel workers who are participating in a citywide strike.

HBH Women's Health Manager Amy Miller and HBH Social Services Director Liz Weck were the driving forces behind this report and HBH commissioned The Morten Group in Oct. 2017 to do the survey which ran until Jan. 2018.

Following an introduction by HBH Policy, Strategy and Business Development Senior Vice President Michelle Wetzel, Weck spoke about the HBH's role in the community and their recent growth to include 45,000-plus patients at 11 sites across Chicago.

The Morten Group Senior Consulting Associate and University of Illinois at Chicago College of Urban Planning Adjunct Professor Keisha Farmer-Smith and The Morten Group Independent Consultant and DePaul University Master of Social Work graduate Vianney Leon were the session presenters.

Farmer-Smith explained what The Morten Group does and the importance they place on being intersectional and inclusive with everything they do. She said what was unique about this study was its inclusivity of all people with cervixes and how they view the healthcare they are receiving and what improvements can be made.

Ahead of the revealing the report's findings, Farmer-Smith and Leon conducted a focus group with the attendees breaking up into three groups to answer two questions: What are the most important healthcare factors and what are the most important healthcare services?

Leon spoke about the literature review portion of the study which found that healthcare seekers wanted providers who are a part of the LGBTQ community and are knowledgeable about the issues that are presented to them, for the transgender community there are a number of adverse healthcare-related outcomes that prevent them from accessing services, LGBTQ disclosure by patients to healthcare providers range from discrimination to affirmation and respect, women-identified members of the LGBTQ community use their social networks to find affirming healthcare and older Black LGBTQ women's barriers to good healthcare are due to non-healthcare related influences.

Farmer-Smith outlined that the methodology they used was "snowball" sampling, a non-probability method where one participant recommended other participants among their social group.

In terms of how they collected the data, Farmer-Smith explained the survey was open to everyone in the community and then the findings were filtered to only include those with cervixes. She said over 550 people who reside near HBH centers across Chicago answered questions either online, during community conversations or through individual interviews.

Leon presented the top ranked responses on healthcare factors and services by gender identity and sexual orientation as well as the overall top three ranked healthcare services they are looking for—onsite screening, general gynecology and mental health.

Famer-Smith presented the top-ranked responses on healthcare factors and services by race, education and income and age as well as the overall top five healthcare factors—including the friendliness of the front desk staff and coverage of women's and LGBTQI services. She also outlined the top five factors that hurt or delay LGBTQ people's ability to receive healthcare services: affordability, insurance coverage issues, discrimination, prior trauma in healthcare settings and the lack of knowledge about what services they need.

A moment of silence was observed in all sessions at 2 p.m. to remember the transgender and gender nonconforming people who have been killed.

Farmer-Smith told Windy City Times that the Chicago Community Trust will be doing a follow-up needs assessment on all aspects of LGBTQ life across all 77 Chicago neighborhoods beginning in October.


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