Adm. Rachel Levine visits Dallas agencies

dfwnewsa | February 23, 2024 | 0 | Dallas News

Adm. Rachel Levine visits Dallas agencies

Cece Cox, left, and Adm. Rachel Levine at Resource Center. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

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Adm. Rachel Levine was in Dallas today (Feb. 22) to tour Resource Center and Prism Health North Texas facilities. Levine is U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health.

About her choice of destinations, Levine said she was visiting locations, “where our community has a lot of challenges.”

Her morning began at Resource Center where CEO Cece Cox gave her a tour of the center and she met with staff.

“Youth are so vulnerable,” Levine said as she entered the space used by Youth First. “Having a safe space is so important.”

She commented on how a safe space may be provided by a teacher, a counselor or other professional and may prevent the need for future mental health services.

When Cox asked Levine, “How do you think our youth are doing?” she answered, “Things will get better. I believe that.”

After discussing Youth First activities, Levine commented, “Sometimes you make a difference and don’t know it,” and added, “Positive energy changes the world.” She called the Youth First space “warm and inviting.”

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As she toured the building, Levine commented on the art hanging throughout and said, “art can inspire” and called the works “healing.”

Next stop was Prism Health’s Oak Cliff facilities, the organization’s busiest.

Prism CEO John Carlo led the tour of the medical office, the pharmacy and drug trial office. He touted the variety of HIV studies going on at Prism and the diversity of patients participating including various races, sex and age.

Levine then met with Prism Health staff in the organization’s Empowerment Center.

Among the reasons for her visit was to highlight her office’s work to cut the number of syphilis cases. Texas is among 14 jurisdictions in the U.S. with the highest rates of the disease. Among cities, Dallas is often among the hardest hit.

Levine said cases were way down in 2000, began to rise through the early part of this century and accelerated during the pandemic. While there isn’t one reason for this, she blamed access to healthcare and availability of mental health care among the reasons. In the LGBTQ community, she said, political pressure that demonizes our lives in states like Texas makes the situation worse.

Six subcommittees looking at prevention, treatment, communication and more are working on reducing the rate of the disease.

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“Everyone’s at the table,” she said. “We hope to flatten the curve by the end of the year.”

LGBTQ healthcare is among Levine’s passions. This is probably the first time healthcare for the LGBTQ community is being studied at this level.

LGBTQ healthcare includes a variety of issues from mental health to physical health. Among the department’s goals is eradicating HIV by 2030.

“I saw HIV at the beginning,” she said. “I want to see HIV at the end.”

And her office is developing a new national PrEP strategy.

Transgender healthcare should include an evidence-based standard of care. She said we continue to make improvements in all areas of healthcare and that includes trans healthcare.

“Research continues,” she said, and standards of care, especially for trans youth, should be updated as we find better ways to treat gender dysphoria. However, those standards of care should be based on medical evidence, not political bias.

“We’re creating medical refugees,” she said, referring not only to families of trans youth who feel compelled to leave Texas and other conservative states, but also in the area of reproductive care.

PERSONAL INFO

Levine is a pediatrician and has been a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine. She served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health before being appointed to her cabinet position in the Biden administration.

She is an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. and is the first openly transgender four-star officer in any of the uniformed services.

She is the first transgender person to have to get Senate approval for appointment to her position.

— David Taffet

Dr. John Carlo, left, and Adm. Rachel Levine at Prism Health North Texas in Oak Cliff. (Courtesy Sydney Street)

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Adm. Rachel Levine visits Dallas agencies was first posted on February 22, 2024 at 3:39 pm.
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