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Hospital leaders and staff gather to celebrate the opening of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital PROUD Family Health Clinic

Photo courtesy of Robert Wood Johnson Hospital

The LGBT community in New Jersey recently welcomed the opening of a new Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital clinic that offers specialized primary care services for the underserved population, according to sister publication Hospitals & Health Networks.

The PROUD (Promoting, Respect, Outreach, Understanding and Dignity) Family Health clinic is part of the RWJ Somerset Family Practice Center, and opened in January after a business resource group within the hospital brought to light the need for LGBT-focused care in the state.

“Every hospital does a community needs assessment, and this population has been overlooked for a long time,” says Tony Cava, chief administrative officer, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset.

In 2005, Jackie Baras, R.N., quality nurse manager of perioperative services at RWJ University Hospital, was in the process of transitioning from male to female and was forced to make the 45-minute trek from New Jersey to New York for proper care — like many in the New Jersey transgender community. The cross into New York also meant traveling out of network and higher medical costs.

“I said, ‘I’m a nurse. I’m working for a hospital. How come I have to go to New York for my medical care?’ And that’s how it started,” says Baras.