Meet Penn Medicine’s first LGBTQIA+ Health Medical Director

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Penn Medicine has a new medical director for LGBTQIA+ health. This appointment aims to improve care and access.

This newly created role underscores Penn’s focus on reducing the health disparities that exist in the LGBTQIA+ community.

“They’re not getting the preventive care they need,” said Dr. Kevin Klein.

Dr. Klein is the first medical director of LGBTQIA+ health at Penn Medicine and a professor at the university.

“One of the main things is to help expand access to care and quality of care,” he said.

Dr. Klein said many LGBTQIA+ patients have traditional health needs as well as unique circumstances for which many doctors are not trained.

“This is an area that has historically been under-educated, so people often avoid care in this area for fear of being harmed,” he says.

Dr. Klein, who also treats patients, said some LGBTQIA+ patients avoid treatment because of the discrimination they face in some medical settings.

    / Credit: CBS News Philadelphia

/ Credit: CBS News Philadelphia

“LGBTQ people have and have historically been ignored, stigmatized, and sometimes harmed by the health care system,” said Gennady Vulak.

Vlach, a second-year medical student, praised Penn for appointing an LGBTQIA+ medical director.

“We definitely get a more specific curriculum on how to be more sensitive within the community,” Vlak said.

In her classes, Dr. Klein will help train future doctors on things like gender-affirming care and the use of preparative medications to prevent HIV infection.

He also talks about the importance of seeing people beyond stereotypes and not making assumptions. Important life lessons for everyone, and respecting how people want to be identified, including how they think about language.

“It’s not ‘Are you married?’ ‘Do you have a husband?'” Vlach said.

Currently, there are no standardized guidelines for LGBTQIA+ healthcare.

Dr. Klein is currently working to make that a reality.

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