Direct from the Dean: Pride in our LGBTQ health care leadership

June 13, 2019

Editor’s note: Below is an excerpt from a message to the IU School of Medicine community from Dean Jay Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA. Link to full blog post is below.

I recently had the privilege of walking in the Indy Pride parade alongside Indiana University School of Medicine faculty, staff and learners. As we carried banners that read “Diversity is Vital” and “LGBTQ MD,” we were greeted by cheers. Many people called out, “We need you, School of Medicine!”

It was a powerful reminder that as a medical school, our top priority is to ensure all patients have access to and receive the best care possible—everyone including members of the LGBTQ community.

To accomplish that, we must teach culturally competent care and eliminate barriers that lead to health disparities. We must also ensure the school fosters a welcoming and supportive environment for people of all backgrounds, races, sexual orientations and gender identities.

Participating in Indy Pride is one way to publicly demonstrate our commitment to those values. But even more important is the leadership we provide every day in the area of LGBTQ health care. In recognition of Pride Month, I want to take a moment to share a few examples of important work underway at IU School of Medicine.

Clinical programs

IU School of Medicine is home to extraordinary faculty like Janine Fogel, MD, who started the Transgender Health & Wellness Program at Eskenazi Health. Launched in 2016, the program is the only one of its kind in Indiana. Beyond primary care, it offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary services such as hormone therapy, legal support, speech therapy, and behavioral and spiritual care.

Likewise, Sidhbh Gallagher, MD, leads our gender affirming surgery program—one of the few in the Midwest—and has provided expert surgical care to more than 350 patients. She has also been a fierce advocate of requiring insurance to pay for these procedures. Along with others at the school, she played an important role in IU’s decision to expand employee health care coverage to include gender affirming surgery for transgender individuals.

At Riley Hospital for Children, J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, MS, provides exceptional support to children and adolescents with gender dysphoria through the Gender Health Program. Again, the program is unique in the state of Indiana.

IU School of Medicine complements these clinical programs with relevant updates to its medical school curriculum to support the needs of the LGBTQ population. Read about these educational initiatives in the full Direct from the Dean blog post.