Region Four is home to the first LGBTQ friendly health centre thanks to a recent certification by Guyana’s Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) of the Herstelling Health Centre, located on the East Bank Corridor.
The presentation of the certificate was done Friday evening after a simple ceremony held at the health centre.
Presenting the certificate to Regional Health Officer (RHO) of Region Four, Dr Quincy Jones, was Executive Director of SASOD Guyana, Joel Simpson.
A number of persons representing the LGBTQ community were in attendance and praised the efforts to create a friendlier environment so that all persons can feel free and comfortable to access healthcare. In examining the certification, which was coincidentally handed out on the day designated International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), Simpson said that the Regional Health Services Department of Region Four in partnership with SASOD decided to certify the Herstelling Health Centre for the next year. This historic certification, according to Simpson, is expected to see a number of other health centres across Guyana being certified as the NGO organisation, in partnership with Government, seeking to eliminate stigma and discrimination towards persons from this community.
He said that the certification falls within a project being undertaken by SASOD, noting that there are clear quality standards in place as they are required to sensitise at least 90 percent of the staff at the health centre.
“We are required to do pre and post testing and ensure that there is increased knowledge and understanding and this was demonstrated today with the training that we did at the Herstelling Health Centre. As part of the ongoing project, we would be doing continuous monitoring, training and assessment of staff,” Simpson said. He added, “There would be some mystery patients on a quarterly basis coming here to see what kind of services that they would be receiving as LGBTQ members and then on an annual basis we would be doing patient feedback surveys.”
He went on to point out that a wide cross section of patients would be surveyed with the view of reviewing the services in terms of the various demographics that have been receiving different levels of health care services. He disclosed that this is in an effort to ensure that this is not a one-off or a short term intervention where people reduce their biases just temporarily and then return to the old mode of operation.
“We want to ensure that this is sustained and that to do that we have to take a multi-prong approach to do training, monitoring and accessing and make sure that we gather data about the quality of services that are being provided,” the SASOD official said.