BCBSRI names Lifespan Physician Group an LGBTQ Safe Zone

PROVIDENCE – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has certified Lifespan Physician Group Inc. Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Services as an LGBTQ Safe Zone provider.

The certification identifies health care practices providing safe, affirming and inclusive care to the LGBTQ community. This provider group joins more than a dozen other practices statewide designated as BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone certified providers.

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Lifespan Physician Group Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Services has been recognized for its inclusive Adult Gender and Sexuality Behavioral Health Program, which focuses specifically on the behavioral health needs of adult transgender and nonbinary individuals.

Dr. Agnieszka Janicka, director of the Adult Gender and Sexuality Behavioral Health Program, leads the program to provide care in a safe and respectful environment that offers psychosocial support, behavioral health and wellness services.

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“As a physician who has treated hundreds of transgender and gender-diverse individuals, I know that a large part of this population has experienced difficulty in medical settings,” said Janicka. “Inclusive programs such as Safe Zones provide the comfort of knowing which providers address the specific needs of the LGBTQ population before ever stepping into the office.”

Certification requirements for BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone practices include staff training specific to the care of LGBTQ people, protection for patients and staff from discrimination based on gender identity or expression, gender-neutral bathrooms, inclusive forms and procedures, and a public commitment to connecting with and serving the LGBTQ community.

Since 2016, BCBSRI has certified more than a dozen practices in Rhode Island to help ensure the LGBTQ community can find the care it needs.

“The Safe Zone certified locations signal to the LGBTQ community that they will receive culturally competent and inclusive care,” said Guillaume Bagal, lead diversity and inclusion consultant at BCBSRI. “It is our hope that the Safe Zone Program at Lifespan will help to provide patients from the LGBTQ community with the valuable health care experiences any patient deserves.”

The LGBTQ community’s gap in proper and equal health care has been well-documented, particularly in Lambda Legal’s report “When Health Care Isn’t Caring.”

To learn more about BCBSRI’s LGBTQ Safe Zone program or if you are a provider/practice looking to become a BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone, visit bcbsri.com/safezones.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.