The Taussig Cancer Institute becomes a pioneer in LGBTQ+ community outreach

Prizm News / September 9, 2019 / By Megan Hageman

The Taussig Cancer Institute, part of the Cleveland Clinic, has recently re-allocated focus to conduct outreach to the LBGTQ+ community. The center ensures comprehensive care for patients including clinical trials and a multidisciplinary approach to both research and specialized treatment.

But though proper in-house services remain a pillar for cancer care, LGBTQ Outreach Program Manager Ty Stimpert reminds us that, “Cancer is not found in a cancer building.” This is where outreach becomes a critical factor, specifically among minorities where disparities in healthcare exist, namely the LGBTQ community.

“We take a preventative approach to catch issues as soon as possible. So, we have added a program focused on minority populations, specifically the LGBTQ community,” says Stimpert. “It’s so important because this work isn’t done widespread and people aren’t aware of the risk factors these groups are exposed to.”

Those who identify as LBGTQ+ can require unique health needs, but due to barriers such as stigmatization and a fear of discrimination, those within this minority are also less likely to seek appropriate medical attention.

“One of the best things we offer is patient navigation,” highlights Stimpert. “We are consistently told this approach works for this community because they are under-insured, underrepresented, and sometimes don’t have any idea how to navigate healthcare. So it helps to have an arm to help guide.”

Stimpert also identifies a lack of data and studies surrounding the LGBTQ+ population as a major obstacle.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” shares Stimpert. “There is a small, although growing, body of literature about disparities in cancer among LGBTQ patients. The lack of data and education out there gives us a limited ability to conduct research, find the best care, and really limits outreach.”

One influential advancement is the implementation of a sexual orientation and gender identity tool, or SOGI, into electronic medical records to provide the most efficient and specialized care.

Since 2016, the Human Rights Campaign has consistently recognized the Cleveland Clinic for a strong devotedness to inclusivity and equitable medical care. Outreach specialists, including Stimpert, plan to continue hosting events and working with stakeholders, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and even youth programs to both spread awareness as well as break down barriers to healthcare services.

“At the end of the day, our job is to make sure people who need to be seeing healthcare providers the most have access,” says Stimpert.

The Taussig Cancer Center is the hub for Cleveland Clinic cancer care focused on improving patient outcomes. More information is available on their website.

Megan Hageman is a Columbus, Ohio-based freelance writer working within the field of social media and content marketing. Her writing ranges from articles on non-profits to advice for working women and California weddings and she can be reached at meghagey08@gmail.com.