The Future of Violet
Apr 20, 2021
Learn why we chose to do this work and why it’s personal.
I'm passionate about improving access to culturally competent care because I utterly dislike our current system, which is filled with judgement and stigma. When I was in 7th grade, a nurse practitioner at an urgent care implied that I had an STD because I was a gay male, which was comical since I wasn't sexually active at the time. Similarly, just last year, I went to a primary care doctor in NYC that didn't know what PrEP was when I asked for a refill . My passion for building Violet is centered around our doctors becoming our advocates again. We shouldn't have to trust Google more than our doctors, especially considering how much we pay for healthcare.
I’ve always been passionate about mental health and increasing access to medical care. However, a crucial part of people getting the care they need is making sure that they’re seen as their whole selves. Our healthcare system often makes us pick and choose what to show of ourselves and can even keep us from getting any care at all. This hit home when I needed surgery in 2019 and I had finally found a surgeon who could do both procedures. I didn’t tell the surgeon my gender identity or pronouns because I was worried that if I shared them and was mistreated or misgendered, I would have to find someone else when it had already taken months to find them. I have tremendous privilege in my access to care and yet I still didn’t share vital parts of my identity because I didn’t want to risk having to start the healthcare search from scratch. This is one of countless stories from me and other people in my communities. We all deserve better. We all deserve to be fully seen, both as patients and as people.
I never envisioned myself as being passionate about cultural competence as it pertained to healthcare. Until 4 years ago, I wasn’t even really aware of what this meant. I was just another queer person trudging along trying to make the best of a system that wasn't designed with my identity in mind. It wasn't until my last role before coming to Violet, on a clinical authorization team at an insurance company, that it really hit home. I was working on a case for gender-affirming top surgery which was denied for a "lack of medical necessity". According to the reviewing physician, the surgery wouldn’t impact the patient’s health and so it wasn't the insurance's job to cover it. This was my first real experience in seeing just how little consideration our healthcare system gave to the identities of queer folx and our mental well being. The experience left me feeling defeated and frustrated.
Now, I'm lucky enough to work at Violet, where I get to work with other queer folx and focus our passion on building the framework for a healthcare system centered around our community.
Having started my career as a nurse in London, I've always been passionate about providing compassionate empathetic care. Moving through my career I've had the huge pleasure to lead work on care pathways and system integration. I've always anchored this work of my team in building for the patient and focusing obsessively on improving clinical outcomes while reducing the cost of care.
Moving to the US in 2019 gave me the opportunity to pivot my career and focus much more on mental health, first at Tempest supporting people through addiction recovery, and now at Violet. As a gay man, being able to work on healthcare that has a direct impact on my community is an absolute privilege. I'm looking forward to continuing to grow the range of services for which we can help our community find culturally competent care.