Two Spirit Health Services, Inc. is the brainchild of Robert and Dr. David Baker-Hargrove (www.drdavidbakerhargrove.com). It was founded in April 2011 and began services in September 2013. Dr. David and Robert wanted to establish a place where Central Florida’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community who are on disability or without insurance can go to get mental health and other related services. Our concept has the feel of a private practice office, rather than an institution, staffed by people who “get you”.
Incorporated in 2011, Two Spirit Health Services, Inc. is a non-profit, 501c3 corporation providing mental health, behavioral, substance abuse, primary care, transgender health, and related services to individuals in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community who live in and around the Central Florida area. We provide these services with a diverse staff in a culturally competent setting which promotes optimum health and wellness.
The Centers for Disease Control reports “People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are members of every community. They are diverse, come from all walks of life, and include people of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all socioeconomic statuses, and from all parts of the United States. The perspectives and needs of LGBT people should be routinely considered in public health efforts to improve the overall health of every person and eliminate health disparities.
In addition to considering the needs of LGBT people in programs designed to improve the health of entire communities, there is also a need for culturally competent medical care and prevention services that are specific to this population. Social inequality is often associated with poorer health status, and sexual orientation has been associated with multiple health threats.” (3/25/2014).
In January 2011, The Advocate magazine, one of the LGBT community’s premier sources for news and community information world-wide since 1967, declared Orlando contains the 4th largest LGBT population in the United States; however population size does not necessarily equate availability of specialized or culturally competent services.
Two Spirit Health Services, Inc., has been serving the Central Florida mental health needs of LGBT individuals since 2011. We recognize the need to develop opportunities for open-access and service expansion to help LGBT-clients and patients, regardless of socio-economic status or ability to pay for such services. Additionally, transgender clients face additional challenges in receiving not only competent mental health services, but physical health services as well.
Research has shown there exists a critical need to provide culturally competent services to low- to moderate-income LGBT people in an environment that is also safe and welcoming. It is not enough for a health care agency to be aware, or even knowledgeable, of the health care needs that exist for LGBT people. The environment must also provide the same level of cultural competence. LGBT persons with good incomes and good insurance will actively seek health care providers that are not only LGBT-friendly, but provide those services in an environment that is assuredly welcoming and culturally competent as well. They will not go to places where they don’t feel welcome. LGBT persons with low to moderate incomes rarely have a choice in the public services they need to access. They are unable to choose from a variety of private providers so, therefore, they often choose not to go. If the waiting room environment or front office staff does not appear culturally competent or welcoming, many will choose to not access those services. People not accessing needed services will result in continued health disparities and continued higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide.
The staff of Two Spirit Health Services, Inc. and its Board of Directors envision a clinic where anyone from the LGBT community can access primary care, mental health and related wellness services, regardless of ability to pay, in an environment that has a professional up-scale feel. We envision a health clinic which will serve not only as a model to other LGBT-related health care facilities, but as a model to healthcare in general. A model in which clients and patients are treated as valued customers.
The officers and staff of Two Spirit Health Services, Inc. and it’s Board of Directors want to create a “one-stop shop” health organization, where LGBT people can go to get primary care, mental health, substance abuse, transgender-specific healthcare, and other wellness services in an environment that is culturally competent and delivered by a diverse staff that is comprised of the LGBT community.
Two Spirit Health Services operates according to the following values:
Customer Service – We see our service recipients as business customers rather than just clients or patients. We recognize the need to earn and keep their business, understanding we rely on them not only for the purpose and growth of the organization, but the livelihood of the staff. We also understand that happy, satisfied customers (clients and patients) are more likely to refer others to us.
Community – Always dedicated to community service, the president, Dr. David Baker-Hargrove, served on the board of the Metropolitan Business Association, Central Florida’s gay and lesbian chamber of commerce from 1999 to 2010. From 2007-2010, he was the association’s board president. During his term as president, he initiated a small business referral exchange network that increased membership and helped small business members become successful entrepreneurs. He served as board president of Come Out With Pride, Inc. (Central Florida’s gay pride event) from 2008-2010. During his presidency, he established an organizational structure, a detailed event production manual, wrote the 501c3 application which was awarded by the IRS, and created a strong corporate framework including the hiring of an executive director. Due to his leadership, the Come Out With Pride event is now a multi-day cultural event that attracts over 100,000 people and garners a boost of approximately 1 million dollars to the downtown Orlando economy.
Even-though he no longer serves on those boards, he and the Two Spirit staff continue to be involved in the community. Members of our team attend community health fairs, meet regularly with other LGBT healthcare providers in the area, serve as a member of the referral exchange network and coordinate partnerships with other LGBT-focused community-based organizations such as the LGBT Community Center, AIDs/HIV support organizations, Zebra House (an organization providing services to homeless LGBT youth), transgender support and professional networking groups, The Metropolitan Business Association, and Come Out With Pride.
Diversity – Our #1 mission is providing competent health and mental health care to diverse populations with a professional, experienced and qualified diverse staff. Our staff is comprised of transgender, gay, bisexual, African-American, Spanish-language, female, single-mother, young and older staff members.
Professionalism – Our motto at Two Spirit is “We teach our clients and patients how to do good business with us.” This means professional business courtesy is our goal. Emails and phone calls are responded to with timeliness and professionalism. Clients are treated as customers and given full knowledge upfront about how services are paid for and delivered. Appointments scheduled are appointments kept and clients know their appointments will always start and end on time. This very structured and professional approach gives clients a feeling of security and safety, helping them understand we take their lives seriously.
Accessibility – We believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. While we provide services to those with insurance or ability to pay, we also have developed accessibility plans for those with little or no income. We also accept investments from the community, along with government and foundation services grants to help offset the costs of providing services to those without ability to pay.
Harmony – We consider ourselves to be a family-values organization. Many of our staff have young children who spend time together. We socialize outside of work. We hold regular meetings not only to discuss goals, objectives and performance standards, but to discuss our group dynamics and synergy. We believe this positive synergy within our staff translates to patient/client care and is felt immediately by whoever walks in our door.
Commitment to Success – Our organization operates within a model of the marriage of healthcare and entrepreneurialism. We understand our industries and we understand the most successful non-profit organizations are those which see themselves as businesses dedicated to growth, managing profit