First impressions are everything. When patients enter your office, they want to feel valued and at ease. Creating a welcoming and inclusive care setting is exactly what they desire. It’s also what they deserve.
I’m Tesiah Coleman (MSN, WHNP-BC, AGPCNP-BC, CLC), an educator at Violet and the director of virtual care at Tia, providing comprehensive in-person and virtual care to support the physical, mental, and emotional health of women and TGNC patients. As a nurse practitioner, I spend a lot of time thinking about how the physical environment of where I work not only impacts staff, but patients too. At Tia, I am lucky to work with a team dedicated to making our facilities more inclusive for all identities.
How leadership and the entire care team can improve care settings for patients.
It goes without saying that attending a health care appointment can be anxiety-inducing. As soon as a patient crosses the threshold into your office, what they see first can make or break patient satisfaction and retention.
Are the amenities clean? Are the bathrooms inclusive? How’s the seating arrangement?
Take note. Imagine how someone would feel coming to their next appointment.
Tia has locations in some of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, from Los Angeles to New York City. Tia has recognized that creating an inclusive care setting is the baseline for ensuring patients feel like they belong.
Here are some of my favorite aspects of Tia clinics:
- Visible pronouns → We have a lovely care team wall in our San Francisco clinic that not only shows the images and names of providers but includes their pronouns, too. Normalizing pronoun use in a clinical setting is important for opening dialogue between clinicians and patients about gender identity, and respecting the many gender expressions that come into our “medical home for women.” In a masked world, having full-face pictures is also invaluable for further personalizing the care experience.
- Living rooms → After checking in, patients can relax in our comfortable living room. Framing and designing this space as a room for living, not waiting, has helped in dismantling the typical “cold” or “impersonal” clinical office experience. The “living room” includes one of my favorite parts of the clinic: a learning library! That is where our team’s favorite books live, related to reproductive justice, feminism, psychological wellness, health and healing, and science-backed natural medicine practices. Our specially-curated library gives patients a chance to peruse before their appointments, and hopefully spark inspiration for their next read while giving them insights into our personal values and interests as clinicians and health care staff!
- Reimagined patient gowns → We’ve created a comfortable robe that helps patients feel covered, confident, and warm during their visit. As a provider, these gowns are great for providing thorough breast exams while keeping the patient as covered as possible. No more flimsy and uncomfortable paper gowns designed for limited body types!
Of course, the ability to do this comes from a position of privilege largely dependent on the clinic’s and community’s access to resources. It is important to note that while Tia is working towards transformative health care for all women, they do not currently serve Medicaid patients. A population Tia is diligently working to reach.
Overall, Tia clinics are designed to feel personal, warm, and cozy for any person inclusive of all identities. This helps to create an environment of openness and humanity before you even enter the exam room. Once you enter the exam room, Tia prides itself on creating judgment-free care experiences with providers who make trust and active listening a top priority. After all, we believe that you are the expert on your own body.
Read more for Part 2.
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