Meritus Health launches safe space initiative

Visitors to Meritus Health practices will notice colorful new stickers on the mirrors in exam rooms. It’s a new initiative driven by Ryan Gabriel, a resident physician in the Meritus Family Medicine Residency Program.

Gabriel has been working with a mission to improve LGBTQ+ health care. While his initial focus started with training his colleagues and providing resources for patients, he quickly realized another big challenge.

“We need to get the word out to our community that our clinics and practices are safe places for LGBTQ+ patients to address their health care needs,” he said.

These safe space stickers have been used in bars, schools and community centers to help locations identify themselves as safe havens for ostracized groups. The stickers provide a quick and simple channel for an immediate indication of a commitment to hospitality and support.

“I felt this was the perfect tool for Meritus to communicate our own commitment to all members of our community,” Gabriel said. “The stickers represent groups of people from all backgrounds, so that anyone visiting our clinics will know it is a safe space.”

The goal of the stickers is to provide a clear and visible presence. Gabriel said that the initial idea was to place them in an intimate location, where patients have privacy to learn about what the clinic has to offer, similar to the posters used to help people who may be victims of human trafficking.

However, the idea evolved, and it was determined that an open forum for discussion was appropriate.

“We want the community to know that we are here and willing to take a public stand for their health. It was with this in mind, we determined that the stickers are more appropriate, and more visible, in patient exam rooms and waiting rooms,” Gabriel said.

Meritus Health continues to strive to find the best, and most beneficial ways to support patient needs, by continuing to push for diversity and inclusivity, ensuring that patients are comfortable opening up to staff.

“Ultimately, my hope is the stickers lead to all patients feeling comfortable with their care providers, so that we, as medical professionals, can better serve the healthcare needs of our community,” Gabriel said.

To find more on Meritus Health’s commitment to fostering a culture of diversity, inclusion and health equity, click here.