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Open Doors and Open Arms: Open Door Health offers inclusive healthcare to LGBTQ+ Rhode Islanders

In March 2020, while the world seemed to be collapsing in on itself with the start of lockdown, you may have missed the opening of what’s proving to be an asset to Rhode Island: Open Door Health. 

Located at 7-9 Central Street in Providence, Open Door Health is an initiative of the Rhode Island Public Health Institute (RIPH). This clinic specializes in the LGBTQ+ population, though all are welcome through their doors. The RIPH indicated that those who identify as LGBTQ+ often receive inadequate care due to discrimination, or due to inequitable access to “culturally competent care services.” Rhode Island has one of the highest percentages of LGBTQ+ individuals of any state in the country, so the RIPH worked to establish Open Door Health to ensure equitable access to care. Before its opening, many LGBTQ+ Rhode Islanders had to go out-of-state to receive the care they need.

The clinic’s executive director, Dr. Amy Nunn, says of the initiative, “It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and an opportunity was presented when we thought the Trump administration was going to draw back funding.” The state presented Dr. Nunn with additional funding that allowed the clinic to open, and the Trump administration eventually increased funding for LGBTQ+ communities. The clinic was also supported with grants from the Rhode Island Foundation and Champlin Foundation, and they have worked closely with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island. 

The doctors at Open Door Health have been trained to work with the LGBTQ+ population, and Dr. Amy Nunn expressed how dedicated their doctors are. “These are the people who wake up thinking about our patients and our clients,” she says. “They are the people who care deeply about who they work with.”

Since the clinic’s opening, 1,050 patients have come through their doors. With the world in a global crisis, this number is impressive, and they say they’re confident they only have room to grow. The clinic offers all standard preventative care, in addition to STD screening, HIV testing and rapid-testing for COVID-19, which delivers results in 16 minutes or fewer. They also work with the transitioning population, including all-inclusive gender care and primary care, as well as gender-affirming care. 

The clinic currently offers in-person appointments and telehealth, based on the patient’s comfort level. Walk-up STD testing has been put on hold until February 1; however, STD testing can still be accessed with an appointment.

Dr. Amy Nunn speaks passionately about the work that Open Door Health provides and what it plans to do in the future. Dr. Nunn summarized her feelings on the clinic and its initial year by saying: “2020 was a crazy year for all of us, but 2021 has great things ahead, not just for us, but for all of humanity.”

Open Door Health accepts multiple insurance plans and offers financial assistance to those who meet the criteria. Appointments can be made by calling 401-648-4700 and more information can be found on their website at odhpvd.org

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