Meet Dr. Felipe Saavedra
LGBTQ+ Care at DAP Health
One of our Primary Care Physicians is Dr. Felipe Saavedra, an HIV Specialist, and Family Medicine physician who has been working with the LGBTQ+ community since 2009. He completed a fellowship in LGBTQ Healthcare at UCLA in 2021, becoming the first Latinx physician specifically trained to care for the diverse population of the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2015, Dr. Saavedra joined a pre-residency program at UCLA, where he also completed his Family Medicine residency in 2020. During his training, he educated himself and his colleagues on critical health care issues impacting LGBTQ+ individuals and improved the lives of underserved patients throughout L.A. County, many of whom were Spanish-speaking. As a Clinical Instructor at UCLA, Dr. Saavedra created a curriculum for first-year medical students exposing them to various LGBTQ+ topics and continues to mentor clinicians and trainees today.
The training Dr. Saavedra received at UCLA, both in family medicine and as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Fellow, was foundational to the doctor he is today. "It was there that I truly learned how diverse our LGBTQ+ community is—well beyond HIV/AIDS," he says. "I developed deep and meaningful relationships with trans and non-binary youth and adults at the UCLA Gender Health program, which forever left an imprint on my practice. In the end, I want to see patients succeed, regardless of the medical and social challenges."
Here, Dr. Saavedra answers questions regarding the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ care at DAP Health and the many wellness options available to our clients.
Q: The LGBTQ+ population has some unique care concerns that are important to discuss with a provider. Could you highlight some of the LGBTQ+ health care services that are available at DAP Health?
A: DAP Health offers whole-person health services to LGBTQ+ individuals. We deliver physical, behavioral, emotional, and social services. On the medical side, this includes routine primary care and specialties like Infectious Disease, LGBTQ+ Healthcare, and Psychiatry; HIV/STI testing and PrEP; gender health and transgender care; and high-resolution anoscopy (HRA).
Q: What information can you share with LGBTQ+ patients—many of whom often avoid health care settings because of past negative experiences—so they know their visits to DAP Health will be positive and they'll be met with affirming care?
A: DAP Health is recognized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for being a top performer in providing LGBTQ+ care. More than that, many of our medical providers—and also many of the clinical staff—belong to the LGBTQ+ community so we know the importance of honest and welcoming care.
Q: Are there ongoing efforts at DAP Health to expand the services available to LGBTQ+ patients?
A: DAP Health is a vital part of the Coachella Valley LGBTQ+ community and a leader in LGBTQ+ healthcare. We are present at nearly every large social event in the community spreading the word about our services and support for the LGBTQ+ Community.
Q: Transgender individuals often encounter situations where their medical needs are ignored or denied. What procedures and policies does DAP Health have in place that help allay these fears?
A: Patients at DAP Health have access to specialists trained in gender health at groundbreaking world-class institutions. Knowledgeable, affirming, and sensitive clinicians can help with transitioning, hormone replacement, mental health, community services, etc. DAP Health is always an affirming space and we recognize the unique needs of the gender diverse and trans communities.
Q: In general, can you share your thoughts on why seeing an LGBTQ+ competent and trained clinician is important to members of that community?
A: Even today, med students get limited training on LGBTQ-specific concerns and how to create a welcoming and non-judgmental space. Health outcomes are better when LGBTQ+ individuals feel affirmed and heard as individuals and not as a group. It's critical that the entire care team, reflected by the community we serve, is educated about and committed to LGBTQ+ issues. Removing barriers to access to health care in the LGBTQ+ community saves lives for the diverse population of the Coachella Valley.