What to know about LGBTQ+ healthcare at UChicago Medicine

Close-up photograph of doctor's white coat with stethoscope and heart pin featuring LGBTQ pride flag

One in 3 LGBTQ+ adults say they were treated unfairly by a healthcare worker, compared to 15% of non-LGBTQ+ adults, according to a KFF report released in April. And when patients don’t feel safe or accepted in healthcare settings, they often avoid them.

“Feeling ‘othered’ or stigmatized has a big impact on health outcomes,” said Aniruddha Hazra, MD, an internal medicine physician at the University of Chicago Medicine. “By creating a space where LGBTQ+ folks feel welcome, we can engage and retain them in care.”

UChicago Medicine provides a breadth of LGBTQ+ health services — including primary care, reproductive medicine and gender-affirming care — designed to deliver a positive, personal experience at every step of the care journey.

All staff, from physicians to frontline workers, are trained to treat LGBTQ+ patients with respect. Students at the Pritzker School of Medicine learn about the healthcare needs of gender and sexual minorities. Clinicians wear badges that display their preferred pronouns.

“We want to create an aura of comfort,” Hazra said.

In May, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gave UChicago Medicine its eighth consecutive LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation. The award recognizes policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees.

“That’s a high bar, and I’m proud we continue to achieve that designation,” said Iris Romero, MD, MS, a UChicago Medicine OB-GYN. “We want to provide competent care, no matter what part of the organization LGBTQ+ patients interact with.”

Respect for identity, privacy

As part of UChicago Medicine’s We Ask Because We Care program, UChicago Medicine patients are given the opportunity to self-disclose their sexual and gender identities when speaking with employees such as call center staff and doctors.

This information, provided voluntarily, can go in a person’s protected electronic medical records to build trust and help doctors provide optimal care.

“A good medical record has to reflect the patient’s life journey; we ask not because we’re nosy or have an agenda,” said Romero, who is also Executive Vice Dean of the Biological Sciences Division at UChicago and the Pritzker School of Medicine.

“It’s so important to have an environment that is safe and affirming so that LGBTQ+ individuals get the healthcare they need and the experience they deserve,” Romero said.

Hazra, whose practice primarily focuses on sexual health and wellness, including LGBTQ health, said that patients of all backgrounds should feel comfortable speaking to UChicago Medicine doctors.

A conversation might entail sensitive topics or issues; no question is taboo.

“I’m an HIV-STI doctor, and this is what I do on a day-to-day basis: I provide non-judgmental, comprehensive sexual healthcare that meets patients where they’re at,” Hazra said.

LGBTQ+ health services at UChicago Medicine

LGBTQ+ patients at UChicago Medicine have many resources to maintain, improve or evolve their health. Among them:

  • Sexual Wellness Clinic at the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination­ — which focuses on South Side communities and the south suburbs — provides services that include HIV prevention, such as PrEP, and testing and treatment for HIV and sexually transmitted infections. UChicago Medicine also offers these services across the organization.

  • The Transgender Clinic for Affirmation and Reproductive Equity (Trans CARE) offers gender-diverse individuals comprehensive care such as medical and surgical treatments. Although some states have curtailed access to this care, UChicago Medicine remains steadfast in its commitment to serving this patient population, Romero says.

  • The Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) clinic has experts in helping LGBTQ+ couples conceive, and it provides fertility-preserving services for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. It can also aid with reproductive services such as the use of donor sperm, donor eggs and gestational carriers.

“UChicago Medicine embraces same-sex parenting and has resources to make that happen,” Romero said. She noted that REI enabled her and her wife to have their two daughters.

No matter their needs, “LGBTQ+ patients should feel comfortable coming to UChicago Medicine because we provide them with competent care that affirms them and their families,” Romero said. “In healthcare, that’s not always a given, but for us, that’s a baseline.”

Aniruddha Hazra, MD

Aniruddha Hazra, MD

Aniruddha Hazra, MD, is an expert on infectious diseases.

Learn more about Dr. Hazra
Iris Romero, MD, MS

Iris Romero, MD, MS

Iris Romero, MD, MS, is a highly skilled obstetrician and gynecologist with special expertise in cancer prevention. Her clinical practice includes individuals with a family history of gynecologic or breast cancer and patients with genetic mutations that predispose to gynecologic cancers, such as BRCA mutations and others.

View Dr. Romero's physician bio