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Lifting up the LGBTQ+ community

A Pennsylvania nonprofit boosts health through building partnerships and trust

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The Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation offers an array of programs and services for the LGBTQ+ and HIV communities in Western Pennsylvania, many linking individuals to health services.

Founded in 2017, Sarah is the nonprofit’s executive director. She has provided seminars and keynotes to help providers better serve the community. She serves on the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, the first of its kind in the nation. In Episode 5, host Ellen Beckjord talks with Sarah about the foundation’s work and better serving the LGBTQ+ communities.

Read part of the conversation, here, then listen to the entire podcast.

Would you say that social determinants of health are more likely to be at play and adversely affecting people who identify as LGBTQ+? And is that some of what the Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation seeks to address?

Yes, and when you think about the social determinants of health, we know that it’s there and we know that it disproportionately impacts LGBTQ+- identified folks. 

If you look at multiple components of identity, if you look at intersectionality, we know that this can be even more impactful..the lack of resources, and the lack of support across multiple marginalized identities. 

So for our Black members, for example, we know that those outcomes often are more pronounced and more attention and more focus is needed to make sure we’re (helping those individuals).

Sarah Rosso is the executive director of the Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation, based in Pittsburgh. She brings more than 15 years experience serving the LGBTQ+ and HIV communities in Western Pennsylvania. She has provided seminars and keynotes to help providers improve practice to better serve LGBTQ+ individuals. In 2018, Sarah was selected to serve on the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, the first of its kind in the nation.

Even when we’re able to create service availability for people who need it, and who have been denied access to it in the past, if they’re coming from a place of having been discriminated against, there seems to be a real need to build trust.

When we are reaching out to our communities, we don’t start with messaging around how to improve behavior or how to access resources. That’s an important piece of the conversation. But another piece is building trust. 

It’s a different conversation if you’re talking about LGBTQ+ organizations or those who are on the front lines doing the work. We all have to build those relationships and build that trust.

If we look at larger systems of care, whether we’re talking about health systems or even just providers, we have to think about this as well.

If we can work collaboratively (with other organizations), if we can do this differently, it’s mutually beneficial for everyone. We can start to get to a place where all of this work is going to have a lasting impact.

Listen to the rest of the conversation on the Good World, Better Health podcast.

To learn more about the Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation please visit, here.

Learn more about the UPMC Center for Social Impact, by clicking here, or by email at socialimpact@upmc.edu to inquire about other partnership opportunities.

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