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VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

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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

VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System 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.

We recognize the distinctive needs of diverse populations and train our staff in culturally and clinically competent care for LGBT Veterans. We are proud the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) designated VA Pittsburgh a Leader for Healthcare Equality of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Veterans since 2015.

Services Provided

  • Mental Health Services
  • Creative Arts Therapies
  • Chaplain Services
  • Speech Pathology
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Gender-affirming prosthetics
  • Psychosocial assessments for hormone therapy and gender confirming surgeries
  • HIV and STI testing and counseling
  • Provision of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) for Veterans at risk for HIV
  • Provision of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for Veterans at risk for HIV
  • HIV care and services
  • Other prevention, screening, wellness and testing services

VA Pittsburgh uses an Interdisciplinary Transgender Treatment Team to assist transgender Veterans receiving care at this facility.

Non-Discrimination

Our Patient Non-Discrimination Policy contains specific language prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (actual and perceived).

Visitation

VA Pittsburgh's Visitation Policy allows for a same-sex partner, family member, friend, or other individual to be present with the patient for emotional support during the course of the patient's stay. Same-sex partners are recognized as the patient's family, even if the partners are not legally married.

VA Pittsburgh's Definition of "Family"

VA Pittsburgh's definition of "family" of our Veterans mirrors the Human Rights Campaign's Healthcare Equality Index: "Family" refers to any person(s) who plays a significant role in an individual's life. This may include individual(s) not legally related to the individual. Family members include spouses, domestic partners, different-sex and same-sex significant others.

Advance Directives

Veterans may designate any person as a decision-maker for care, should they become unable to make these decisions themselves. This includes designating a same-sex partner as a surrogate decision-maker. Advance directive agents are chosen by the Veteran and do not need to be biologically related. Please inform staff if you desire to create an Advance Directive.

Documentation in Medical Records

VA Pittsburgh maintains the confidentiality of information about sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and gender identity, as it does with all other private health information. We encourage you to inform your health care provider of your gender identity and sexual orientation so the very best care can be provided.

Changing Your Name and/or Sex in Your Medical Record

Your name in your medical record will reflect your legal name. The sex in your medical record should reflect your self-identified gender. You have the right to request that your 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 our records system, please let your health care provider know so they can obtain a copy for you.

Concerns and/or Complaints

If you feel you are not being provided with compassionate care at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System or have an EEO complaint, we encourage you to voice your concerns to your provider and/or a patient advocate at 412-360-3614.

If you have any questions about policies or services available to LGBT Veterans, or if you are in need of advocacy on your behalf to assure that you receive care in a welcoming environment, please contact one of our LGBT Veteran Care Coordinators: Dr. Dawnelle Paldino at 412-360-1210 or Sarah Merlina at 412-822-1069.

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
Men
Health Care Fact Sheet

Gay and Bisexual Men Health Care Fact Sheet

Lesbian and Bisexual
Women
Health Care Fact Sheet

Lesbian and Bisexual Women Health Care Fact Sheet

Transgender
Women
Health Care Fact Sheet

Transgender Women Health Care Fact Sheet

Transgender
Men
Health Care Fact Sheet

Transgender Men Health Care Fact Sheet

Contact

Dawnelle Paldino
Psychologist
University Drive
412-360-1210
Dawnelle.Paldino@va.gov

Sarah Merlina
Social Worker
H.J. Heinz
412-822-1069
Sarah.Merlina@va.gov

Resources

LGBT Updates