A Historic LGBTQ Health Symposium on a Historic Day

2016.04.13 National Kaiser Permanente LGBTQ Health Symposium 2333
2016.04.13 National Kaiser Permanente LGBTQ Health Symposium 2333 – We can, we will totally do this – P.L. Maillard and Richard Mehlman, MD, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles (View on Flickr.com)

A Historic Day in Health Care

I actually mentioned the coming enforcement of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act in my presentation at this symposium in 2014, and again on this blog in 2015.

See: Presentation: Being a Transgender Ally and Unconscious Bias – and 2nd Annual Kaiser Permanente LGBTQI Health Symposium: Future of Inclusion

Imagine, then, 2 years later, that the final regulation was released, in Washington, DC, just a few hours before history was made at this event itself.

A Historic Day at Kaiser Permanente

2016.04.13 National Kaiser Permanente LGBTQ Health Symposium 04818
Member led, not member “participated” – 2016.04.13 National Kaiser Permanente LGBTQ Health Symposium 04818 (View on Flickr.com)

In 2016, the symposium, held in Universal City, California, hosted the first member led (not member participated) session at this Contuing Medical Education accredited event.

(And not to worry, we fulfilled all the CME requirements, even with a member-led session, and some we didn’t have to, including being 100% Pharma Free)

It was also the first national (rather than regional) LGBTQ Health Symposium for Kaiser Permanente.

When Cadence Valentine hosted a conversation with our members on stage, they did it on the day that health policy finally aligned with science – after an 80+ year mismatch, in front of 350 of the most passionate therapists, nurses, doctors, health leaders in the universe.

The topics included what the health system needs to do, now, not just to keep people from getting killed, not just to keep people alive, to help them thrive.

As Cadence said:


What a wonderful opportunity, on this historic day, to see the future in the context of the people who deserve to live it well.

I’d also like to comment on another thing I saw – the spontaneous, authentic recognition of the care teams by their patients from the stage, with those care teams in the audience. I know many of these nurses, physicians, therapists. They bring 100% of themselves to their work in this space, in professions that are just learning what LGBTQ health care is, much less able to recognize them for it.

Not just national leaders, world leaders

We were also honored to be visited on this day by Gail Knudson, MD (@Gail_Knudson), from the Provicial Health Services Authority of British Columbia (@PHSAinBC), and the President-Elect of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (@WPATH).

I still have memories of Gail personally attending to my education about the future of transgender person health when my colleague Dana and I visited a year ago as part of KPLantern (see: Visiting the Transgender Person Health Program, Vancouver BC #KPLantern).

It’s incredible to learn this year at the progress British Columbia has made in spreading its world-class program to more of the province:

Leading in PrEP

Since the symposium covered all of LGBTQ, I learned a lot about Kaiser Permanente’s PrEP program. It’s the largest in the world. At one point the leaders of programs in three service areas did a roll call of new HIV infections:

It’s incredible what we can do when we put our minds, and our human spirit to things, isn’t it 🙂 .

Still so much more to do

In 2016 there is greater dissatisfaction with the status quo, expressed openly in the room.

This includes the way we address our members/patients when they come to see us; keeping them informed of changes and improvements in services available; connecting them to each other and to services closer to where they live, work, learn, play.

This is good. I see a future where we will prevent unnecessary suffering and demonstrate through action what it looks like when health care learns to love better, which is totally happening.

Human Potential and Listening

You know what else about our patients. Each person is a unique human being, on a pathway of their own, with the the potential to do great things for themselves and society through their total health. That’s what we are here to help them produce. This is a link I sent out many times this year, as a demonstration of just one of the things Cadence accomplished for society in the last year: Real Life ‘Danish Girl’: Transgender Woman Helped Actor Prepare for Film | NBC Southern California

At the same time, in so many contexts and health circumstances, I hear the thing that so many other patients have said, and continue to say: “let us help you.”

Listening is one of the best therapies for our health system. It works so well. And so does love. Which always wins.

There aren’t another 350 members, nurses, physicians, and health leaders who I would have rather spent this historic day with. If you didn’t get to appreciate the future with your patients in the wake of this news, I encourage you to. It’s the key to you being the best nurse, Doctor, therapist for the people you serve.

Photos from the day, click to enlarge.

Ted Eytan, MD