LGBTQ2+ health services now accessible in Sun Peaks

Photo by Arvin Chingcuangco.

March’s inaugural Peak Pride was not the only recent advancement in LGBTQ2+ support in Sun Peaks. A new partnership between Sun Peaks Health Association and a Kamloops non-profit program has made LGBTQ2+ focused primary health care accessible in Sun Peaks for the first time.

The Sun Peaks Health Association first teamed up with Kamloops-based Supporting Team Excellence with Patients Society (STEPS) for the initiative in late 2018.

STEPS is based out of Orchards Walk Medical Clinic in Kamloops, and headed by physician Dr. Lisa Harvey.

According to its website the goal of STEPS is to “provide specific gender-affirming care for patients who are part of the LGBTQ2+ population and/or needing access to transgender care.”

Together with Sun Peaks Health Association, the intention is to expand the reach of this goal to Sun Peaks through the sharing of resources.

A statement from the Sun Peaks Health Association detailed that patients can be referred to Harvey and the STEPS team for their specific care that is then shared between the Sun Peaks clinic and STEPS to meet the patients’ care needs.

Harvey will be working at the Sun Peaks Clinic occasionally as part of this initiative to extend access to the Sun Peaks community, read the statement.

Beyond Harvey, the interdisciplinary team behind the collaborative effort includes family physicians, nurses, pharmacists, clinical counsellors and office support staff.

The move will help break down some of the barriers that have historically faced individuals identifying as LGBTQ2+ when accessing health services in the area.

Harvey conducted a study into the experiences of people who are transgender when accessing healthcare in Kamloops in 2016, prior to the initiation of STEPS. She found at the time that people who are transgender often did not feel comfortable identifying themselves as such to physicians, due to a feeling of being marginalized by “society at large” and the lack of focused services.

The statement from the Sun Peaks Health Association also stated the program enables more access to care in the community and allows patients to stay close to home.

The initiative was made possible through funding from The Stollery Charitable Foundation, which supports charitable agencies in Kamloops which work to reduce barriers to participation, achieve equality, and foster healthy individuals families and communities.
It’s a positive development for the Sun Peaks’ clinic and surrounding community as it joins other clinics in the broader area that offer similarly holistic, LGBTQ2+ focused care.

Specific services offered by these nearby sites include hormone and surgical readiness assessments, hormone replacement therapy, counselling services, and access to Changing
Keys, an intensive speech and voice training program.

STEPS did not respond to requests for comment on its specific LGBTQ2+ focused services.

“Both organisations are very excited with the resulting partnership, collaboration, and outcomes we have been able to achieve, and look forward to future opportunities to provide more services for our communities,” concluded the statement from the Sun Peaks Health Association.

If you are interested in arranging a consultation with Harvey, contact STEPS at 250 828 8080, or Sun Peaks Health Centre at 778 644 0635.