Healthcaring means exhibiting positive attitudes and behaviors toward the health and well-being of oneself and others. Important conversations about inclusive and accessible health care are happening all the time at Atlantic Health System – and not just during Pride Month. We believe that everyone deserves compassionate care regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Here is a Q&A with Michael Galabi, MD, an internal medicine physician at a new practice, Atlantic Medical Group Primary Care at Metuchen, who specializes in caring for the unique needs of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Why did you join Atlantic Health System?
I became part of Atlantic Health this year and I’m helping to open their new primary care office in Metuchen. I came here from an internal medicine practice in California, where I helped people with preventive care and treatment for their chronic and acute health issues.
I’m also mindful of the distinct health care needs that affect the LGBTQIA+ community. In fact, part of the reason I joined Atlantic Health System is the value they place on inclusive and accessible care – for everyone. Here, I feel I’m able to provide a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQIA+ individuals to receive the care and education they need to live fulfilling and productive lives. Atlantic Health System’s commitment to providing LGBTQIA+ patient-centered care has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation.
How can you individualize care for such a diverse community?
As you can imagine, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual communities are an extremely diverse group, with many subgroups within it. Add to that, the varying ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, and mindsets, and you realize how important individualized care becomes. My goal is to provide each patient with one-to-one care, with the tools they need to be the healthiest version of themselves at every stage of life.
Do you think health care is adapting to meet the needs of the LGBTQIA+ communities?
Yes, I think Atlantic Health System is working to build a culturally knowledgeable team which, in turn, is helping create a safe and welcoming environment for all people. It’s important that physicians are familiar with the unique health challenges the LGBTQIA+ community faces. Some of these specific challenges include mental health issues, substance abuse, gender identity and hormones, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted diseases.
How does mental health impact these individuals?
The LGBTQIA+ communities face higher rates of depression and anxiety, addiction, and substance abuse. Many people also face mental health challenges due to the societal stigma, discrimination, and marginalization they often experience in society – and this transfers into the health care setting. In physician offices and hospitals, these patients often feel discriminated against and stigmatized, which can lead to a lack of trust in health care providers and a reluctance to seek care.
What is your hope for this new Metuchen office?
I really enjoy getting to know my patients – and the better I understand them, the better I can provide individualized care. Here in our Metuchen office, we’re working to create an inclusive space for everyone. We are working to build a network of resources and support services specifically for the health needs of LGBTQIA+ individuals. Above all, I want to promote the health and well-being of all people, helping prevent them from getting cancer, heart disease and diabetes, staying current with their vaccines and screenings, and focusing on their physical and mental health. If I can do this, I can help people live long and healthful lives.
Be Proactive About Your Health
To stay safe and healthy, it's good to have a primary care provider who knows and understands your health history and wellness goals.