Improving access to primary health care services for the LGBTTIQ community in the Capital Health District

Final report of the 2004 HRH Project can be found here: http://www.nsrap.ca/hrhproject


By DawnArchambault The Halifax Rainbow Health Project is intended to increase access to Primary health care for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-spirited, Intersexed and questioning (LGBTTIQ) community in the Capital Health District

A growing body of research provides substantial evidence about the significant health challenges experienced by LGBTTIQ people. The life expectancy of LGBTTIQ people in Canada is significantly lower than the heterosexual population, and the reason for this discrepancy is related to health and social problems faced by LGBTTIQ people. For example, research has demonstrated that when compared to the general population, LGBTTIQ people experience higher rates of depression, eating disorders, attempted suicides, and substance abuse including tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use.

LGBTTIQ people often delay or refuse to seek medical care, including preventive health care, because of fear of ridicule and doctor prejudice. In a study of negative experiences in health care settings, researchers found that being gay or lesbian was associated with increased expectancy of having a negative health care experience, more frequent negative experiences with the health care system, and greater likelihood of avoiding health care services after having a negative experience.

In March, 2004 three predominant LGBTTIQ serving organizations came together to develop a proposal for funding for the HRH project. In May the funding was approved by The Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition along with a number of other LGBTTIQ projects through out Canada.

Allow me to introduce myself; my name is DawnArchambault and I have been given the privilege of Coordinating the HRH project. I grew up in Halifax but until Feb. 2004 I had been living in Toronto. My partner & I decided we wanted a better standard of living for our son and ourselves and returned home. Its wonderful to be back and great to be continuing my life's work here.

I feel honored to have been chosen to coordinate this project as it will have an impact on the health & well being of my family, friends and peers. I have dedicated my career to acting as activist & advocate for the LGBTTIQ community. After completing my degree in Counseling Psychology I worked as a therapist & project coordinator for a number organizations such as; the Peel Police Department, The Sexual Assault Rape Crisis center, a number of Youth centers and for the Center for Addiction & Mental Health in Ontario. For a number of years I enjoyed facilitating an LGBTTIQ youth group as well as providing public education workshops on the issues faced by our community.

While I was in Ontario I experienced, personally & professionally, the gaps in services for the LGBTTIQ community. From this the opportunity arose to create an organization that filled a number of those gaps. After completing a number of focus groups and surveys, I organized the development of a non-profit organization, choose a diverse board of directors and developed a service providers educational program. This program ensures the inclusion & safety of the children of LGBTTIQ families in daycare & school room settings through out Ontario. In addition to this I was fortunate to be involved in the development of a number of mental health & addictions services specifically for our community.

Through the facilitation of many focus groups and surveys the Halifax Rainbow Health project will ascertain information from the LGBTTIQ community as well as Medical & Social Service organizations here in the Capital Health District. Information such as experiences, ideas, recommendations for programs and services will be used to develop educational programs for Primary Health Care providers & Social Workers.

The educational programs will enable individuals & organizations to not only better serve the LGBTTIQ community but enable them to create best-practices, policies, programs & services specifically to meet our needs.

Statistics & detailed reports will then be compiled into a report entitled the Halifax Rainbow Health program. This report can then be duplicated in other provinces through out Canada.

I see strong similarities in the process of this project and various others I have been involved with. I am looking forward to conquering any challenges that will arise in the HRH project. In order for this project to be successful community partnerships will be established and the involvement of the LGBTTIQ community will be crucial. I am excited by the possibilities that this project will create and I am looking forward to coordinating this project for the next 18 months.

For more information about the HRH project please visit us at the BloomfieldCentre, call 902-832-9100, or contact us by mailto:hrh_project@yahoo.ca

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