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'It's like a family': Northwell opens center to serve needs of transgender patients

Northwell Health has opened Long Island’s first center dedicated to transgender care, providing services under one roof to serve the LGBT community.  Credit: Corey Sipkin

A new health care center in New Hyde Park will be dedicated to transgender care in the region, providing an array of services under one roof to serve the LGBTQIA+ community in the region, said Northwell Health officials.

The 3,000-square-foot office, which represented an $850,000 investment in transgender care by Northwell Health, opened this month in observance of Pride Month, giving the program first established in 2016 a physical home.

The Northwell Health Physician Partners LGBTQ Transgender Health Program, located at 410 Lakeville Road in New Hyde Park, features four exam rooms, eight offices or consultation rooms and two gender neutral restrooms.

“We understand that there are thousands of individuals living on Long Island who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary. This is an underserved community that has specific health care needs,” said Dr. David Rosenthal, medical director of the Center for Transgender Care at Northwell Health.

The center's opening this month coincides with the Pride celebration in June, which recognizes the movement for equal rights in the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual people and their allies. 

The center is staffed by a medical director, a primary care physician, psychiatrist, senior psychologist, nurse practitioner, and two trans-health navigators.

The program offers services for endocrinology (adult and pediatric), plastic surgery, adolescent medicine, obstetrics and gynecology and ears, nose and throat care.

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“The goals of this center are to bring together multiple clinical services at Northwell to serve the needs of the transgender community, educate health care professionals about transgender health, perform cutting-edge research, and work with the health system to address infrastructure to meet the needs of the transgender community,” Rosenthal said.

Byron Nicholas, a transgender patient at Northwell, said he wants to feel accepted when he goes to the doctor.

"When you come here, it's like a family," said Nicholas, 43, of Nassau County.

Northwell said the new center reflects its commitment to equity in the workplace and health equity for all patients and employees, whatever their race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age or other characteristics. 

Northwell last week said it parted ways with an employee of Southside Hospital in Bay Shore whom they said espoused racist views during an online chat with someone over social media. A Northwell spokesman said he could not confirm whether the employee was terminated or if she left on her own because it was a "personnel matter." The hospital did not name the employee.

The new center is the first such site from the hospital network on Long Island. Northwell said its transgender-focused care is also available in Manhattan and Westchester County.

Nova Rodriguez, a practice case worker at the Long Island center, said "transgender people face daily discrimination in their lives, especially in health care. We all should be treated with respect."

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