Kevin Kline: Penn Medicine’s Inaugural Medical Director for LGBTQ+ Health

Kevin Kline: Penn Medicine’s Inaugural Medical Director for LGBTQ+ Health

caption: Kevin KlinePenn Medicine has appointed its first medical director for LGBTQ+ Health—Kevin Kline, currently an assistant professor of family medicine and community health in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn Medicine’s Program for LGBTQ+ Health works to increase access to care, along with quality of care and patient experience, for LGBTQ+ individuals across the health system. Since its establishment 10 years ago, the program has become a leader in LGBTQ+ patient care, education, research, and advocacy.

In his new role, Dr. Kline will partner with fellow Program for LGBTQ+ Health leaders to develop and standardize guidelines to improve the quality of LGBTQ+ patient care across the health system, and to expand and ensure the implementation of LGBTQ+ affirming practices and clinical services at Penn. He will also focus on increasing pathways for consultation to LGBTQ+ health clinical services and care teams, making it easier and faster for patients to obtain referrals to specialists knowledgeable in their unique healthcare needs.

Dr. Kline will continue to serve as the director of LGBTQ+ Health in the department of family medicine and community health, and as a member of Penn Medicine’s sexual orientation and gender identity working group and the Preferred Name Steering Committee. Dr. Kline also provides regular lectures and presentations on LGBTQ+ care to students and professional organizations throughout the region.

“Throughout his career, Kevin has remained steadfast in his commitment to serving the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups who historically have faced barriers to accessing healthcare,” said Judd Flesch, co-director of the Penn Medicine Program for LGBTQ+ Health and an associate professor of pulmonary medicine. “His efforts to prioritize care for the LGBTQ+ community are critical to Penn Medicine’s work in advancing health equity for all patients.”

Providing the highest possible standard of care is paramount to every provider at Penn Medicine. But there are few standardized national or international guidelines for providers when seeking to address health needs of LGBTQ+ populations—from gender-affirming surgical care to sexual health and more. This can negatively impact the speed at which proper treatment is administered, as well as the overall care environment for patients.

“If you’re a provider caring for a transgender patient seeking testosterone therapy, you’ll find dozens of medication options available. But there may only be several appropriate [options] to use for gender-affirming hormone therapy,” said Dr. Kline. “Moving forward, one of our priorities is to identify areas across LGBTQ+ and gender-affirming care where the development of standardized care guidelines can increase provider knowledge and cultural humility, improve the overall quality and efficiency of care, and serve as a model for providers across the medical landscape—not just here at Penn.”

Additionally, Dr. Kline aims to enhance education, training, and professional development opportunities, working closely with Peter J. Vasquez, an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and faculty director of gender and sexuality curriculum. Dr. Kline envisions programs covering sexual orientation and gender-affirming care for Penn’s medical students, faculty, and clinical care teams across the health system.

In addition to learning modules, clinical instruction, and lectures for Penn Medicine providers and students on specific areas within LGBTQ+ care, Dr. Kline’s goal is to incorporate care guidelines for LGBTQ+ patients across all specialties at Penn.

“LGBTQ+ patients should expect the same level of care whether they come to the emergency department with a broken bone or are seeing their primary care provider for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) follow-up,” Dr. Kline said. “However, providers across specialties don’t always share the same base-level knowledge on LGBTQ-affirming care because we all come from different backgrounds where this was often not a focus of our educations. For example, while some may have an intricate understanding of how to manage certain health considerations for transgender and gender-diverse patients, others may have a more basic understanding on how hormones can affect a person’s medical conditions.

“There’s much that can be done to ensure competency levels are maximized across specialties, and not just siloed into areas of care directly related to sexual orientation and gender identity,” continued Dr. Kline.

Established in 2013 and currently co-directed by Dr. Flesch and Rebecca Hirsh, an associate professor of hematology, Penn’s LGBTQ+ Health Program works to provide the highest level of care for the LGBTQ+ community in a culturally-humble and judgement-free environment. The program has been critical to Penn Medicine’s work in advancing health equity and has been designated as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (Almanac September 29, 2020).

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