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‘Pride of Rural Virginia Project’ kicks off to address LGBTQIA+ health care priorities

Virginia Rural Health Association wants to address LGBTQIA+ health and healthcare priorities in...
Virginia Rural Health Association wants to address LGBTQIA+ health and healthcare priorities in rural areas.(Virginia Rural Health Association)
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:59 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Studies show the LGBTQIA+ community often faces challenges and barriers to accessing needed health services and, as a result, can experience poor health outcomes

“They’re likely to see discrimination from their insurance providers, less likely to get the insurance they need. And those things add up. People will avoid seeking treatment because they don’t want to be treated poorly, or maybe they don’t get referred to the services that they need,” said Beth O’Connor, president-elect of the National Rural Health Association.

O’Connor is also the executive director of the Virginia Rural Health Association (VRHA) and they wanted to find out why and if health care is a problem in rural Virginia.

VRHA has earned a federal grant for the Pride of Rural Virginia Project. It is an initiative to address LGBTQIA+ health and healthcare priorities in rural areas across the Commonwealth.

“Whether it’s people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and are concerned about the care that they’re receiving, whether allies in their communities or as health care providers that want to do a better job,” said O’Connor.

They’ll be kicking off a series of chats to learn to better understand the healthcare needs and experience of LGBTQIA+ members.

“We are bringing those people together to talk about what we can do to make sure that our health care hospitals and clinics are in a safe and informing environment,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor has learned in her own research; these conversations are already happening across the state—except in Southwest Virginia

“We’ll be talking to members of the community to healthcare providers and bringing everybody to the table to talk about how we can all do a better job,” she said.

Leaders say VRHA’s efforts are fairly new. Funding is limited but they’re hoping to gain more support as more of these conversations happen.

Here is a list of all the community chat’s happening:

Community Chat Dates:

To learn how to participate and register, visit VRHA’s website here.

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