A Vision for Primary Care
by 26Health Staff
‘Primary Care for All’ is a reality at 26Health. Here’s how it happened.
Long before 26Health existed, Dr. David Baker-Hargrove (identified by ve/ver/vers) had a private psychotherapy practice with a focus on services for LGBTQ+ individuals. How did vers practice evolve into the expansive full-service medical care center that it is today? It all started because a very real need became apparent to Baker-Hargrove.
When a new healthcare organization is in development, before any actual medical services occur, providers start with a vision of the patient population they will serve. What do those patients look like? Which key identifying features prevail?
At the time 26Health was forming, offering both mental health and primary care services, the picture was clear. The least served and least understood would get the top priority: the transgender community.
The Disconnect for Transgender Patients
Finding a healthcare home is a challenge for a transgender person, as Baker-Hargrove witnessed many times over.
“When I was running my private psychotherapy practice, I had so many people who I was referring out for transgender medical health services,” recalls 26Health founder Baker-Hargrove. “Some healthcare providers would allow me to come in and do cultural competency training for their staff, but front desk turnover is high and the information didn’t transfer when new staff replaced them. Even if the doctor was open and welcoming, the patients I would refer would get the stink-eye from reception.”
“One of the first providers I had a relationship with was a gynecologist, and she was very happy to see the trans men, but they hated going there because a gynecology office is oriented to women. So they show up with their beard, and they couldn’t feel any more uncomfortable. And from there, it wouldn’t be unusual for the intake nurse to call them by their birth name.”
A Plan Takes Shape
Baker-Hargrove started to think hard about the possibility of opening a medical clinic. Ve did vers research and verified that there were other similar thriving organizations around the country. Ve shared vers growing plan with vers partner, Robert.
“I remember telling him that we needed to do this, because there was nothing like it in Orlando,” says Baker-Hargrove. “We knew we were in unfamiliar territory and we needed to learn every step of the way.”
Within four years, 26Health rolled out primary care services for transgender patients to ensure they would receive holistic care in a supportive environment.
Extending Services to All
Early on in the development process for any healthcare organization, it is common for the patient population to be explicitly described in strategy documents. The picture living in the minds of the decision-makers has endless implications for how services will be rolled out, how staff will be educated regarding patient care, and also who will benefit most from the services being offered.
The patient profile will be created based on a variety of factors, from biases to local demographics, funding opportunities to persistent needs. Historically, white cisgender patients have been the first to receive attention from the medical community, and diversification has branched out from there to reach minority patient populations.
26Health is one of a very small number of medical clinics to build its foundation in response to transgender needs and to then branch to reach majority patient populations.
Consider the advantages: transgender healthcare is complex, amongst the most complex in the medical world. Transgender patients must often cope with intersectional stigmas which are stifling effective healthcare.
Theoretically, practitioners who are able to master the unique demands of this patient population are well-equipped to extend themselves to all other patient populations. Their agility brings benefits to patients from all walks of life. Their bedside manner is bar none.
Comprehensive Primary Care
With this incredible toolkit in hand, 26Health expanded to all areas of primary care including pediatric care, women’s health, men’s health, and also additional support in the form of telehealth and low-cost prepaid health plans.
“We continually ask ourselves, what health services are people not receiving that they actually need? For example, arranging very-low-cost MRIs, helping to transport fresh food during the pandemic, or being a COVID-19 vaccination site. It’s little actions that make a big impact,” says Baker-Hargrove.
Now, primary care is available at low or no cost for any patient that is uninsured or underinsured as well as those who have full-coverage health insurance. The quality of care at 26Health is unmatched, and we’re proud to offer these services to patients who have:
– Always had access to healthcare but want a better experience
– Avoided healthcare because of lack of cultural competence
– Endured uncomfortable healthcare environments because of lack of cultural competence
– Not had access to good primary care
– Historically had an inability to pay for healthcare services
Our providers are knowledgeable about health issues for those in every age and stage of life. We welcome families with young children and teens; independent young adults; middle-aged adults; and elderly patients.