Brandon Earehart, PA-C
The LGBTQ community celebrates Pride Month in June. While there continues to be advancements in delivery of medical care, there’s still a need to close health disparities for LGBTQ patient populations.
Certified PA Brandon Earehart is dismantling these barriers to care with the founding of Starland Family Practice in Savannah, Georgia, a primary care center with a focus on the LGBT community. Read more about how he’s supporting this community in our Q&A feature.
Starland Family Practice opened in May 2018. Tell us about what motivated you to open the clinic.
As a proud member of the LGBTQ community, I have always wanted to provide comprehensive medical care to LGBTQ individuals, especially those with HIV. When I relocated to the southeast in 2011, I learned quickly that this was a practice area that was significantly underserved. Numerous individuals would tell me that they could not get PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) from their primary care providers, because they were uncomfortable prescribing it. Also, while working part-time at a very large college campus in Statesboro, Georgia, I realized individuals in rural areas had even less medical options, especially transgender patients.
After conducting extensive research, I learned that the southeast has become the epicenter of new HIV diagnoses in the country, as well as an overwhelming increase in sexually transmitted infections. I created an online survey to find out where patients were going to receive care and the response was overwhelming. I learned that patients seeking quality care and compassion in a judgement-free environment were traveling 50-200 miles or further to find it. The area was in need of a medical provider that was willing to treat and offer preventative care to our diverse community.
What unique services do you provide to the local LGBTQ community?
Starland Family Practice offers quality primary care services to all individuals, with a specific focus on theShare LGBTQ community. We provide a substantial amount of transgender focused therapy, including hormone replacement therapy. Since opening in May 2018, more than 50% of our patients have identified as transgender or gender queer/non-binary. We prescribe PrEP and treat HIV in a primary care setting that eliminates the need for our patients to see an infectious disease specialist. We believe in a patient-centered approach to care that not only addresses HIV treatment, but the overall health care needs and goals of our patients.
What is the range of patients you treat?
We treat patients aged 16 and older. We are very pleased that a large base of our patients are local college students, some traveling over an hour to receive the medical attention.
What’s the community response been like to the opening of your clinic?
The community response to Starland has been tremendous. In addition to our growing patient list, we have been profiled by the NBC-affiliate WSAV and by the ABC-affiliate WJCL. The Savannah LGBT Center, where I serve as the Medical Liaison, has been a great resource for clients as well as networking opportunities with LGBTQ-affirming providers.
Starland is the only clinic specializing in LGBTQ in the area. The closest clinic is in Augusta, 200 miles away, and they only treat patients that have no insurance or are underinsured, and whose income is less than 200% of the federal poverty line. In the state of Georgia, the nearest similar clinic to Starland is in Atlanta.
In preparation for the opening of Starland Family Practice, Earehart became a Certified HIV Specialist through the American Academy of HIV Medicine. He’s a member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine and a member of the LGBT PA Caucus. Earehart graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant studies from Philadelphia University in 2001.