Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Veteran Care - Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center
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Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Veteran Care

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VHA) is committed to providing quality care to all Veterans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Veterans. Excellent care has no boundaries.

We Serve All Who Served poster

Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center seeks to promote the health, welfare, and dignity of LGBT Veterans and their families. We are committed to making sensitive and high quality health care accessible. Our policies and practices focus on ensuring a safe, welcoming, and affirmative environment of care for LGBT Veterans. Our employees receive training in clinically competent care that is responsive to the unique needs of LGBT Veterans.

All Veterans are welcome here.

An estimated one million Veterans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). More than 36,000 gay men and lesbians are on active duty, and likely up to 87,000 men and women in the service are gay or lesbian, including the National Guard or Reserves.

At the Coatesville VA Medical Center, we deliver culturally competent, patient-centered care to all who come to Coatesville or our community based outpatient clinics (CBOCs). The Coatesville VA Medical Center embraces the national policies that guarantee access for LGBT Veterans. These policies (and more) are available to download or view through the Resources section below. We encourage LGBT Veterans and families to be aware of these rights as you seek care.

If you feel you are not being provided compassionate care at the Coatesville VA Medical Center, we encourage you to make your concerns known to your Provider and/or our Patient Experience Advocate, Dawn Bullen at 610-384-7711, ext. 2103.

LGBT Veterans Group

The LGBT Veterans Group is a place for any Veteran with concerns or questions about their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is a safe place to discuss personal issues, how the VA is treating you, and LGBT-related issues with other identified veterans. Meetings are held every Monday from 1:00 to 2:00pm, in Building 57, room 223. You do not need a referral from VA staff to come to the group. All LGBT Veterans are welcome! Please contact group facilitator, Dr. Katäri Brown, for any questions at 610-384-7711, ext. 6328.

LGBT Special Emphasis Committee

The LGBT Special Emphasis Committee is responsible for identifying barriers to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of LGBT employees and for making recommendations to the leadership at the Coatesville VA Medical Center on how to eliminate these barriers and promote equal employment opportunities for all employees. The Committee strives to enhance awareness and educate employees about various workplace issues affecting LGBT employees.

The committee seeks to significantly impact the composition and cultural health of the medical center's workforce. The LGBT Special Emphasis Committee routinely makes recommendations to the leadership of the Coatesville VA Medical Center on how to provide increased access and opportunities to serve our LGBT Veterans.

The committee hosts an annual educational "lunch and learn" for staff and Veterans, participates in the local Veterans' Day parade and area PRIDE events, and hosts an annual ice cream social.

LGBT Health

People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are members of every community. They are diverse, come from all walks of life, and include people of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all socioeconomic statuses, and from all parts of the United States. The perspectives and needs of LGBT people should be routinely considered in public health efforts to improve the overall health of every person and eliminate health disparities.

In addition to considering the needs of LGBT people in programs designed to improve the health of entire communities, there is also a need for culturally competent medical care and prevention services that are specific to this population. Social inequality is often associated with poorer health status, and sexual orientation has been associated with multiple health threats. Members of the LGBT community are at increased risk for a number of health threats when compared to their heterosexual peers. Differences in sexual behavior account for some of these disparities, but others are associated with social and structural inequities, such as the stigma and discrimination that LGBT populations experience. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a wealth of information concerning health issues and inequities affecting LGBT communities.

Documentation in Medical Records

Information about sexual orientation and sexual activity is confidential within your health care team, just like your other health information. We encourage all Veterans to inform their health care team of sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual activity so we can provide the most appropriate care. This includes confidential testing for sexual transmitted infections, mental health care, and appropriate screenings. Finally, if you do not want your confidential medical record to reflect information related to sexual orientation or gender identity, it is your right. Please inform your healthcare provider of this wish.

Your name in your medical record reflects your legal name. The sex in your medical record should reflect your self-identified gender. You have the right to request that name and sex are updated as appropriate. There are established procedures for changing your name and sex with the VA Privacy Officer. If you would like a copy of the fact sheet on how to change your name and/or sex in your medical record, please ask your healthcare provider for a copy.

Safe Zone Training

Safe Zone Trained identification stickerThe CVAMC LGBT Committee offers Safe Zone training to all employees. Across many organizations, Safe Zone training has been used to create a safer, more welcoming, and inclusive environment for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) community. Safe Zone trainings are opportunities to learn about LGBTQ+ identities, gender and sexuality, and unlearn prejudice.

The following CVAMC employees are currently Safe Zone trained and display Safe Zone stickers to communicate to others the commitment we're making to creating a LGBTQ-inclusive environment. They are available to contact with questions and for support and referrals, if needed:

  • Laura Fahringer
  • Meredith Kenny
  • Dana Mervos
  • Virginia Campbell
  • Melissa Shannonhouse
  • Brynn White
  • Holly Ruckdeschel
  • Kathi Rendall
  • Jennifer Lilly
  • Carmella Tress
  • Kelly Tuturice
  • Heather Basehore
  • Melissa Finney
  • Brigid Neary
  • Rhonda Sanford
  • Yuliya Lesyuk
  • Christina Clements
  • Aaron Heft
  • Samantha Dracup
  • Theresa Polston
  • Nadine Foster
  • Michelle Farrell
  • Desarae Thomas
  • Walter Murray
  • Terri Nolan
  • Cynthia Coston

LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) Program

As of March 2016, each VA facility has a local LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) who is appointed by their facility leadership. The VCC is responsible for promoting best practices for serving LGBT Veterans and connecting LGBT Veterans to services.

Health Information

To learn important information about the unique health risks of LGBT Veterans, download these relevant fact sheets. Here you can also find information about relevant services offered by VA.

Gay and Bisexual
Health Care Fact Sheet

Gay and Bisexual Men Health Care Fact Sheet

Lesbian and Bisexual
Health Care Fact Sheet

Lesbian and Bisexual Women Health Care Fact Sheet

Health Care Fact Sheet

Transgender Women Health Care Fact Sheet

Health Care Fact Sheet

Transgender Men Health Care Fact Sheet