Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) this week announced that it has newly certified eight organizations as BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone facilities.

This new cohort – including hospice and palliative care, behavioral health services for young adults, breast health services, senior living facilities, and outpatient rehabilitation services – joins 45 other locations statewide providing safe, affirming, and inclusive treatment to the LGBTQ community.

Among this newly certified group is the first Safe Zone offering hospice and palliative care, Hope Health, as well as the first offering specifically breast health services, Breast Health Center at Kent Hospital. Increasing the breadth of services offered across the network of certified Safe Zones allows the program to serve more Rhode Islanders with their individual healthcare needs.

“We’re incredibly proud of the expansion of Safe Zones throughout Rhode Island,” said Carolyn Belisle, managing director of corporate social responsibility in a statement. “The program serves a critical need for LGBTQ Rhode Islanders of all ages facing specific care challenges. We’re grateful to providers for making an extra effort to learn about Safe Zones, for leaning into the program and for demonstrating their commitment to the LGBTQ community.”

Since 2016, BCBSRI has certified more than 40 LGBTQ Safe Zone providers in locations across Rhode Island representing a number of specialties, primary and dental health and behavioral health services. 

The newly designated BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone facilities joining the list include:

  • New England Wellness Collaborative LLC: Located in Providence, this collaborative is a group of therapists offering individual, couples, and family sessions, workshops, wellness programs, and online video therapy to people of all ages.
  • HopeHealth: Provides high-quality hospice, palliative, home care, dementia and grief support services all across RI. Hope Health has been committed to providing culturally competent care to LGBT elders through specialized training for staff members.
  • Social Sparks Inc: Provides individual and family therapy, group therapy, telehealth services, and school-based counseling. They offer therapeutic support groups centered around LGBTQ+ identity.
  • Ocean State Counseling and Wellness Center: Offers clinical mental health counselors to treat an array of behavioral health needs. Services include early recovery treatment, intensive outpatient programs, substance use individual counseling, wellness programs, and more.
  • Butler Hospital Young Adult and Adolescent Programs: Offers day programs that serve young adults, ages 13 to 26, who are struggling with depression, anxiety or other mood related symptoms. Their True Self IOP is a program designed to support the mental health needs of young adults ages 18 to 26 who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning,
  • Breast Health Center at Kent Hospital: Provides services that range from breast cancer screening, treatment, and helping with lactation problems. As part of their public support of the LGBTQ community, they connect patients with gender affirming surgeries as needed.
  • John Clarke Senior Living: Offers both short-term rehabilitation and retirement living options in Middletown, RI. They ensure access to their services specifically to members of the LGBTQ+ community in partnership with NewportOUT.
  • Lifespan Outpatient Rehab Lincoln: This outpatient rehabilitation facility helps patients create an individualized care plans to meet their unique needs and offers a wide range of services including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology therapy, and audiology services for patients of all ages and levels of ability.

Certification requirements for BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zones include staff training specific to the care of LGBTQ patients, protection for patients and staff from discrimination based on gender identity or expression, gender neutral bathrooms, inclusive forms and procedures, and a public commitment to connecting with and serving the LGBTQ community.

To learn more about BCBSRI’s LGBTQ Safe Zone program, or if you are a provider or practice looking to become certified as a BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone, visit https://www.bcbsri.com/providers/safezone-program .

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.