Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center
Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Veterans
The Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System and Cleveland VA Medical Center are committed to providing top quality care to all Veterans including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Veterans.
We recognize that diverse populations have distinctive needs, and are training our staff in culturally and clinically-competent care for LGBT Veterans. We are focused on providing the most respectful health care environment possible. The Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System embraces the national policies that guarantee access for LGBT Veterans in Northeast Ohio. These policies (and more) are available to download from this website. We encourage LGBT Veterans and families to be aware of these rights as you seek care throughout the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare Center.
Below are relevant policies and services:
Our Patient Non-Discrimination Policy has specific language that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (actual and perceived).
The Cleveland VA Medical Center Visitation Policy allows for a same-sex partner, family member, friend, or other individual to be present with the patient for emotional support during their stay. Same-sex partners are recognized as the patient’s family, even if the partners are not legally married.
Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System’s Definition of “Family”
The Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System uses the definition of “family” put forth by the Human Rights Campaign’s National Healthcare Equality Index. “Family” refers to any person(s) who plays a significant role in an individual’s life. This may include individual(s) not legally related to the individual. Members of “family” include spouses, domestic partners, and both different-sex and same-sex significant others.
Patients may designate any person as a decision-maker for care should you become unable to make these decisions yourself. This includes designating a same-sex partner as a surrogate decision maker. Advanced Directive agents are chosen by the Veteran and do not need to be biologically related. Please inform staff if you desire to create an Advanced Directive.
Documentation in Medical Records
The Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System maintains the confidentiality of information about sexual orientation and sexual behavior, as it does with all other private health information. We encourage you to inform your healthcare provider of your sexual orientation/gender identity so appropriate care can be provided.
Changing Your Name and/or Sex in Your Medical Record
Your name in the medical record will reflect your legal name. The sex in your medical record should reflect your self-identified gender. You have the right to request that name and sex are updated as appropriate. There are established procedures for changing your name and sex with the VA Privacy Officers:
Joseph Picklo 216-791-3800 x821-2341 or Tomica Jefferson 216-791-3800 x821-2342. For clinical name changes and pronouns when interacting with and referring to transgender patients contact Dr. Megan McNamara 216-791-3800, Ext. 3647.
If you would like a copy of the fact sheet on how to change your name and/or sex in CPRS, please let your health care provider know so they can obtain a copy for you.
Concerns and/or Complaints
If you feel the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System is not providing you with compassionate care, we encourage you to make your concerns known to your Provider and/or a Patient Advocate. If you would like a copy of the memo on processing EEO complaints based on Sexual Orientation, please inform a Patient Advocate.
If you have any questions or concerns that are not about a specific Service Line, please contact Scott Woodard, LGBT Special Emphasis Program Managerat 216-577-1808, or contact one of our Patient Advocates at 216-791-3800, Ext. 1700.
HIV/STD/STI Testing and Counseling/PEP/PREP
IV/STD/STI testing and counseling: HIV/STD/STI testing is done by all medical center providers. Care provision of all patients with positive HIV results is transferred to the Infectious Disease Clinic. Other STD/STI results are referred to the Infectious Disease Clinic as needed. Point of Care testing (Rapid Testing) for HIV is done anywhere/any time needed throughout the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System. HIV counseling is an inseparable element of the testing process by custom, by standard of care, and by Federal Regulation.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for Veterans at risk for HIV is provided through the Infectious Disease Clinic. The Infectious Disease Clinic Director will also consult with an off-site primary care provider to provide guidance when needed.
PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) for Veterans at risk for HIV is provided per CDC guidelines per Infectious Disease consult for any patient who requests it, or whose medical history suggests it is needed.
Contact Infectious Disease Nurse Practitioner Jan Briggs at 216-791-3800, Ext. 4773.
- Information about sexual orientation and gender identity is an essential part of one’s medical history
- HIPPA protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information, including information related to a person’s LGBTQ status.
- Information will not be disclosed to anyone – including family, friends, and other patients – without the patient’s consent.
- This information will not be disclosed to medical personnel unless there is a medically relevant reason to do so.
- If this information is shared solely for the purposes of gossip or harassment, it is a violation of HIPPA.
GIVE (Gender Identity Veterans Experience) Clinic
The GIVE clinic provides a “medical home” for transgender Veterans at the Cleveland VA Medical Center. The GIVE clinic team is comprised of a dedicated administrative assistant, LPN, RN, social worker, primary care physician, psychiatrist, and 3 psychologists.
Contact: Dr. Megan McNamara at 216-791-3800, Ext. 3647.
- LGBT Veterans (printer friendly pdf)
- G.I.V.E. Clinic (printer friendly pdf)
- We have an information LGBT Veteran Resources*
- American Veterans for Equal Rights
- Outserve / Service Members Legal Defense Network
- TransFamily Cleveland
- National Resources for Transgender Veterans
- Changing your name and gender in Medical Records Kits
- VA National Policy on Transgender Care
- International Foundation for Gender Education
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- Traveler Information for Transgender Travelers from the TSA
- Ten Things Transgender Persons Should discuss with Their Healthcare Care Provider
- LGBT Health Resources
- CDC LGBT Health Page
- The National Lesbian Health Organization
- American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts for Gay & Bisexual Men
- American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts for Lesbian & Bisexual Women
- 10 Things Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals and Transgender Persons Should discuss with Their Healthcare Provider