Valley’s Center for LGBTQ+ Care is meeting an important need

lgbtq women

Whether it is access to basic services or receiving care in a welcoming, supportive environment, members of the LGBTQ+ community face a unique set of challenges when it comes to healthcare. Valley’s Center for LGBTQ+ Care in Paramus is meant to address those concerns. Here, we present a Q&A with Raffaele M. Bernardo, DO, FACP, AAHIVS, Medical Director, LGBTQ+ Services, Valley Medical Group.

Q: Why is the Center for LGBTQ+ Care needed?

A: The Center is a vital resource for the LGBTQ+ community, providing a safe and affirming space where individuals can receive culturally competent care that addresses their unique healthcare needs. The community faces higher rates of certain health conditions as well as discrimination and stigma in traditional healthcare settings. The Center empowers individuals to overcome these obstacles and to maximize overall health and well-being.

Q: How does the Center’s approach to care differ from other institutions?

A: Our approach is rooted in cultural humility, understanding, and the belief in healthcare equity. We prioritize building trust, respect, and open communication with our patients. Unlike traditional healthcare settings where LGBTQ+ individuals may face stigma and discrimination, our Center fosters an inclusive environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Q: What does the Center offer its LGBTQ+ patients that they may not get elsewhere?

A: We offer a comprehensive range of services, including primary care, sexual health services, comprehensive services for the transgender and gender-diverse community, including gender-affirming hormone therapy, HIV treatment and prevention services such as HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, as well as affirming gynecologic services. We have also partnered with community-based organizations to expand on behavioral health services as well as social work services. We aim to provide co-located care and ensure the patient experience is affirming throughout the office visit.

Q: What are some of the LGBTQ+ community’s unique healthcare needs?

A: The community faces higher rates of certain health conditions, depression, substance use, and sexually transmitted infections. We tailor our services to address these disparities, providing specialized screenings and access to treatment. We also provide gender-affirming care to support individuals in their transition journey.

Q: What services do you provide to the transgender community?

A: We offer a comprehensive range of gender-affirming services, including gender-affirming hormone therapy, letters of support for gender-affirming surgeries, and assistance during the post-operative period. Our team is knowledgeable about the unique health needs of transgender and gender-diverse individuals and provides personalized care throughout their transition journey.

Q: How important is it for these patients to receive care in this type of environment?

A: A supportive environment is crucial for the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals, especially those who have experienced trauma or discrimination in healthcare settings. Our Center prioritizes creating a safe and welcoming space where patients feel comfortable discussing their health concerns openly and honestly. This fosters trust and leads to better health outcomes.

Q: What challenges do patients usually face when trying to receive medical care?

A: Many LGBTQ+ individuals face stigma, discrimination, and a lack of understanding from healthcare providers in traditional settings. This can lead to delayed or inadequate care, as well as negative mental health impacts. Our Center provides a safe haven from these challenges, ensuring that everyone receives the compassionate and affirming care they deserve.

For more information, please visit To make an appointment, please call 1-800-VALLEY 1 (1-800-835-5391).

dr bernardo

About the Author

Raffaele M. Bernardo, DO, FACP, AAHIVS

Dr. Raffaele Bernardo serves as the Medical Director of LGBTQ+ Services for Valley Medical Group.