Out in the Open, a nonprofit that connects rural TLGBQ+ people “to build community, visibility, knowledge, and power,” is based in Brattleboro and works locally and regionally throughout northern New England. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send physical mail to P.O. Box 1685, Brattleboro VT 05302.
BRATTLEBORO—The HEART (Health Equity and Access for Rural TLGBQ+) Program aims to address common healthcare barriers faced by TLGBQ+ (Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer) people in Windham County. A team of trained volunteers will work alongside TLGBQ+ community members to ensure access to safe and supportive healthcare. The program is now accepting volunteer applications and will begin in early May.
“We are thrilled to be launching the HEART Program to support our rural TLGBQ+ community in improving our experiences in healthcare settings and in accessing care,” said HB Lozito, executive director of Out in the Open, in a news release. “I know I could have used exactly this type of support at many points in my life, including very recently, and also know I’m not alone in that. To our local providers, we look forward to working in partnership and to learning alongside one another.”
Many TLGBQ+ people delay or skip care due to a variety of negative experiences within the healthcare system including medical trauma, racism, sexism, ableism, fatphobia, transphobia, homophobia, transportation difficulties, and a multitude of other intersecting challenges.
The HEART Program, made possible with support from the Consortium on Substance Use (COSU), will address these challenges and make it easier for TLGBQ+ people in Windham County to access high quality care by offering emotional and logistical support. Using harm reduction principles and TLGBQ+ positive advocacy, HEART aims to reduce health disparities.
“A critical intention of the HEART Program is to center the person receiving care,” said Out in the Open’s health justice organizer Jake McBride. “We want to ensure participants’ needs are being met in a way that feels safe and healthy for them and that they are leading the effort with assistance from us in whatever form they need. Our goal is for participants to feel supported while remaining in control of their own health decisions.”
Community members can request support for a variety of services including, but not limited to, appointment planning and debriefing, support during appointments (transportation is also available if needed), TeleHealth support, follow-up/next step planning, check-in calls during hospital stays, and referrals.
Volunteers will be trained by HEART Program staff and community partners to ensure that they can offer needed support. The training will include proper use of Narcan and Intentional Peer Support Training.
Those interested in volunteering, or those who know someone they think might be a good fit, can go to bit.ly/656-heart to sign up. More information about the HEART Program can be found at weareoutintheopen.org/heart-program. To request support from the HEART Program, go to bit.ly/656-support.
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