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Taking Pride in Diversity

This month we’re taking time for listening, learning and growing as we take pride in the qualities that make each of us, uniquely us.

At Crossover, we believe that care should be delivered with a foundation of trust and personalized to each member’s health needs and goals.

Our care teams have a fundamental commitment to building deep and connected relationships, allowing them to compassionately guide our members on their personal journeys. We help them to embrace their identities, resolve past disparities in care, and live their best health.

Please meet Miriam Garcia, MD (she/her), Physician Manager; Shelly Sheinbein, PhD (she/her), Licensed Virtual Psychologist; and Jennifer Gaskins, PhD (she/her), Licensed Virtual Psychologist, who share how their dedication to understanding the intersectionality of identities, prioritizing health equity and celebrating diversity enables them to deliver the best care.


 

Q: As a provider, you’ve gone above and beyond to make sure that you personally, as well as your team, are leading in the practice of health equity. Why is this important to you?

 

Dr. Garcia:  Access to optimal healthcare for all by all is of utmost importance to me,  and I am able to put this belief into practice at Crossover Health. Here, I have the opportunity to work with a care team who are united in their commitment to providing the highest quality of care – to everyone. Collectively, we have made a significant commitment to ongoing education and training regarding the primary care and mental health needs of underserved communities.

 

Dr. Gaskins: As a provider, I appreciate knowing that I can personally improve health equity by providing culturally responsive and inclusive care. We know that several of the health disparities LGBTQ+ individuals experience relate to not being engaged in routine healthcare often due to fear of mistreatment by healthcare providers. Creating a care environment where members feel affirmed and comfortable keeps them engaged in care and can lead to better health outcomes. For instance, I’ve had several members comment on how they appreciate me introducing my own pronouns and asking about what pronouns they use during our initial session. It made them feel comfortable discussing these things and laid the foundation for building rapport, which is essential for positive outcomes in mental health treatment. 

 

Dr. Sheinbein:  Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and care. I went into this profession because I wanted to help people and advocate for individuals whose voices are not always heard. I’m able to do this at Crossover with our focus on health equity and collaborative approach to care for every member that includes a team of  physicians, health coaches, and mental health providers. We focus on building deep relationships with members and work together to address their lifelong health issues. 


 

Q: Within the context of diversity, can you tell us how you’ve seen strength and resilience in the members you work with?

Dr. Sheinbein:  I am constantly in awe of the members with whom I work, many who have faced ongoing prejudice and discrimination based on one or several of their identities. Their resiliency is evidence of the courage it takes to share and experience deep rooted emotions, as well as in their hope, commitment to health, and overall belief in themselves.  It can take a lot of courage and commitment to seek mental health support; to be open and at times vulnerable. It makes me feel so grateful that our members put their trust in me, and in turn it provides me with a positive impact on my life each day.  

Dr. Gaskins: As a clinician, it’s incredibly important to acknowledge that the need to develop resiliency is born out of navigating systemic racism, LGBTQ+ stigma, sexism, or other cultural barriers.  With that being said, I’ve seen strength and resiliency show up in so many powerful ways among the diverse members I work with.  Some of these ways have included everything from having the courage to self-advocate with their employer for a promotion or raise, to being present in moments of laughter and connection with their families or friends, and getting involved in their local communities.  Sometimes it is something as seemingly basic – but difficult – as committing to the intentional practice of self-care behaviors (e.g. mindfulness meditation, starting a new exercise routine, etc.). I feel honored to work with our diverse member base as they demonstrate their strength and resiliency on a daily basis.   

Dr. Garcia: We’re empowered to embrace and promote diversity at Crossover. Our trailblazer DIB (Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging) and SOGD (Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity) teams are focused on initiatives for enduring change. They have created awareness and learning opportunities for our clinicians via ongoing education opportunities and by facilitating a space that welcomes vulnerability as a means to learn and improve. We’re fortunate to work for a healthcare organization that actively supports and promotes diversity and equity. 


 

Q: The intersectionality of diversity is especially relevant during Pride Month. How do you see this playing out with members? Do you think acknowledging intersectionality as a part of care improves outcomes?

Dr. Garcia: Intersectionality explains the layered aspects of our social identities that result in distinctive experiences, opportunities, and barriers for each person. It helps us shed light on the uniquely personal health needs of individuals and communities. 

Dr. Gaskins: Yes, acknowledging intersectionality is significant for care and certainly helps to improve health outcomes. People are diverse and have many varied components of their backgrounds: LGBTQ+, racial/ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, spiritual/religious beliefs, to name a few. There are also many other aspects of their identities that impact health needs and should inform effective care delivery. As providers, we need to be able to understand how the intersection of individual identities impact members’ lived experiences, and how these lived experiences may in turn affect their health. With a full health story, we’re empowered to deliver better care. Additionally, many of the interventions we aim to implement with members will be more successful if they are done in a culturally responsive way.  For instance, if I’m working with a Black cisgender lesbian who’s struggling with depression and their spirituality has previously played a meaningful role in their well-being; the behavioral activation goals we develop in treatment can and should include the member reconnecting to this aspect of her life.    

Dr. Sheinbein:  Every member with whom I work has intersecting identities that shape how others perceive them, as well as how they perceive themselves. In my opinion, addressing intersectionality is essential to providing quality care and addressing each member’s unique needs–which leads to improvement in health outcomes. 


 

Q: How do you personally celebrate diversity?

Dr. Gaskins: This is a great question. I celebrate diversity every day though honoring my own identities, lived experiences, and cultural histories.  Doing this helps me share my authentic self with others. Another way I celebrate diversity is to really listen to the stories and experiences of others who are different from myself. I appreciate the opportunity to learn about these rich traditions and celebrations. I believe that we are at a place in society where it’s becoming more and more important to be mindful of how we are celebrating diversity so we can ensure it’s being done in a way that feels respectful to those from different cultural backgrounds. While the intention may be to celebrate aspects of a particular culture, it can at times result in cultural appropriation or people feeling as though their identities are being commodified. I’ve certainly noticed these feelings come up for me as a queer person during Pride Month in response to the large amounts of companies selling rainbow themed products. While the LGBTQ+ community and other diverse groups certainly deserve celebration on these occasions, it’s equally important for us to continue challenging ourselves and others to the day-to-day work of supporting and advocating for these communities.   

Dr. Sheinbein: As a member of the queer community, I celebrate diversity every day. I am fortunate to live in an area where the majority of my surroundings are accepting of my same-sex relationship. However, I am aware that many individuals do not have this privilege which is one of the many reasons why I am so committed to serving the LGBTQ+ community and advocating for their rights to be themselves!

Dr. Garcia:  As a cisgender, heterosexual Latina, I am proud to extend the gift of celebrating Pride Month with patients, friends, family and colleagues. The experience of working with our SOGD (Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity) team enriches me as a person and gives me the opportunity to lead other physicians to provide the same optimal, trusted access to care for every individual, which is health as it should be.