The VCU Medical Center opened the region's first behavioral health medication management clinic exclusive to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community on Aug. 20.
The clinic, operated by the VCU Department of Psychiatry, is located at the VCU Nelson Clinic (401 N. 11th St.) and will be open every first and third Tuesday of the month. However, a referral by a licensed therapist or counselor is required.
The clinic is the result of a collaboration between the VCU Department of Psychiatry, VCU Center for Psychological Services and Development, the VCU Health Collective and the Fan Free Clinic. Dr. Isaac Wood, senior associate dean for medical education and student affairs in the VCU School of Medicine, says he was approached by Keri Abrams, the transgender services program manager of the Fan Free Clinic, along with Lettie Flores, former director of the VCU Center for Psychological Services and Development, about the need for a psychopharmacology clinic for transgender individuals. The Fan Free Clinic provides services for about 250 transgender individuals, and Wood says psychiatric services for these clients are lacking in the area. Taking that into consideration, he decided to take the idea of a transgender psychopharmacology clinic and expand it. "I feel like there was a need to actually have a clinic that expanded beyond transgender individuals, but also included gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals so that there was a place in Central Virginia where people felt that they could come and was safe and it was going to be nonjudgmental and culturally sensitive," Wood says. The clinic also strives to raise awareness of the mental health needs of the LGBT community and provides training opportunities for future health-care professionals.