Letter to the Editor: Student Health Center Response to the Transgender Hormone Therapy Article
by Dr. Wendy Gelbard | published Jul. 13th, 2017
In response to your July 9, 2017 article, please know that there has not been a change in policy at our Student Health Center (SHC) with respect to the management of a treatment plan, including the administration and monitoring associated with hormone therapy for gender transition. We have excellent relationships with two local treatment facilities that do provide the expertise to manage comprehensive services for the administration and monitoring associated with hormone therapy for gender transition. This is similar to relationships we have developed with other specialized providers to support students with specialized health care needs. Over the years, several of our students have used the services from these two centers, while others have continued to have their treatment plan managed by their home providers.
We take the health and well-being of all our students very seriously, and we work daily to provide excellent care and services to our students. We had more than 19,000 student visits to our health center this past academic year. While we strive to offer a breadth and depth of services, it is not possible to meet every students’ health care needs within the scope of practice of the Student Health Center. That being said, we are fortunate to be situated in Rochester, where there is a strong medical community rich with resources.
Most importantly, I want to emphasize that the SHC would never leave a student involved in a treatment program on their own. Rather our staff works tirelessly to ensure students get access to the care they need. This may include consulting with the student’s primary provider to provide interim bridge medication support until a connection with a local specialty provider has been secured. Furthermore, all of our providers in the student wellness areas have chosen college health as their area of expertise and interest. Students can expect our staff to be sensitive to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex and Asexual students’ health issues and when necessary can refer students with specialized and on-going care needs to providers with the expertise to provide such care in the greater Rochester community.
In support of our efforts to see that ALL students’ health care needs are met, RIT has an assigned case manager who is a tremendous resource in identifying community specialty providers supported by the individual students’ insurance plans and is able to troubleshoot with students so that they are able to get to appointments to ensure care is not interrupted. This is a new role in college health and we learned in just the first two years how critical a role it is for ensuring that there is an individual working directly with students to coordinate support across the campus and within the community to assist students facing complex or specialized health care needs, crises, and/or life traumas. In fact, we have redirected resources to be able to add a second case manager to the team, which we are expecting to be on board for the start of the fall semester.
Again, I want to emphasize that, the administration and on-going monitoring associated with hormone therapy for gender transition has been, and continues to be, beyond the scope of practice of the Student Health Center. If a provider affiliated with the Student Health Center was managing the administration and ongoing monitoring associated with hormone therapy for gender transition to a student, they were not operating within the scope of practice for our Student Health Center. As you would expect, if we were to learn that a provider was acting outside the scope of practice without authorization from the Medical Director or myself, we would take the matter very seriously. Of course, for privacy reasons I cannot comment on specific personnel matters.
We have cultivated a very supportive environment here on campus and we will continue to do so in support of the health care needs of our students.