Nation’s first and largest organization uniting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
and queer (LGBTQ) people with families and allies celebrates milestone anniversary

To celebrate PFLAG’s 45 years of serving LGBTQ individuals and their families across the country, the Jersey Shore chapter is honored to host an information session at its March Transgender/Transfamilies meeting provided by Mr. Anthony V. Cava, M.S., RPh., FACHE, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, an affiliate of RWJ Barnabas Health in Somerville. Mr. Cava will be speaking about RWJ’s PROUD Family Health Clinic, New Jersey’s first specialized primary care service provider for the LGBTQ community. The meeting will be held on Monday, March 19, 2018 at 7:00 pm and is held at the Church House of the Presbyterian Church at Shrewsbury, 352 Sycamore Avenue, Shrewsbury, New Jersey (although the meeting is held in a church, PFLAG is not affiliated with any religion). All who are interested in learning about this unique and specialized medical program are welcome to attend.

Health disparities within the LGBTQ community occur when individuals do not feel comfortable with sharing their sexuality or gender identity with hospital staff and physicians, whether through realized discrimination or perceived acceptance. This lack of communication can result in inadequate assessment, treatment, and education for disease management, leaving the LGBTQ person with nowhere to turn. Further, transgender individuals present with their own, unique medical needs for which many systems have not prepared or adequately trained. Many transgender individuals end up having to educate physicians on how to care for their medical needs. Healthcare systems which lack appropriate physician and staff training on treating LGBTQ individuals lend towards disadvantages to this community and further perpetuates discrimination.

RWJ’s PROUD Family Health Clinic has risen to meet these challenges head on. They have committed to meet one’s medical needs in a safe and supportive environment, strategically located on the hospital’s campus which can offer patients access to their comprehensive health care services. RWJ’s commitment to improving access to quality healthcare brings inclusion where previously only exclusion existed. While the care is no different than offered to the non-LGBTQ population, RWJ believes providing treatment in an environment that shows each person they are valued through welcoming and affirming language and care can reduce stigma and improve the health of the LGBTQ patient and their family.

Anthony Cava has 32 years of experience in health care administration. He formerly was Chief Operating Officer for Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, an affiliate of Hackensack Meridian Health. His hospital leadership experience also includes positions as Vice President, Strategic Planning/Business Development and Vice President of Operations at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, an affiliate of Hackensack Meridian Health; Vice President of Operations for Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood, (now Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus) an affiliate of the RWJ Barnabas Health and Vice President of Operations and Administration, and Vice President of Clinical Services at St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital, an affiliate of the Saint Joseph’s Health System.

Mr. Cava obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy in New York and a Master of Science degree in clinical pharmacy and administration from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health.

A registered pharmacist, he is a member of the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, the New Jersey Society of Health System Pharmacists and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Mr. Cava is a member of the Raritan Valley Community College Foundation Board, the Raritan Valley Community College Finance and Investment Committee, NJHA Audit and Compliance Committee, and NJHA Healthcare Business Solutions Board. He is also a member of the Somerset County Business Partnership Executive Committee and SCBP Strategic Plan Committee. Mr. Cava is the Executive Sponsor of PROUD BRG of RWJUH.

PFLAG—the nation’s largest and oldest organization uniting families and allies with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ)—will celebrate 45 years since its founding in New York City on March 11, 1973. PFLAG Jersey Shore is an active chapter of PFLAG National, working for LGBTQ equality in and around Monmouth and Ocean counties, and throughout the state of New Jersey.

PFLAG was founded by Jeanne Manford, elementary-school teacher and mother of renowned gay activist Morty Manford, who marched by her son’s side in the 1972 Christopher Street Liberation Day March—a precursor to NY Pride—carrying a homemade sign that said, “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support of Our Children.” When she was surrounded by people at the end of the march, asking her to speak to their own parents, the idea for PFLAG was sparked and nine months later, with support from her son and husband, Jules, the first meeting of PFLAG was held on March 11, 1973 at the Metropolitan-Duane Methodist Church in Greenwich Village (now the Church of the Village). Approximately 20 people attended.

Over the past 45 years, PFLAG (formerly an acronym for “Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays” but changed to simply PFLAG to reflect its longtime inclusion of bisexual and transgender people—one of the first organizations to do so—in 1993 and 1998, respectively) has grown into a national organization with nearly 400 chapters across 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and on a U.S. military base in Germany, with hundreds of other family and ally organizations around the globe, all inspired or quietly supported by PFLAG.

PFLAG Jersey Shore was founded in 2004 to provide services to families of LGBTQ individuals after public interest for a support group grew when Judy Shepard, mother of slain teen Mathew Shepard spoke at Ocean County College. A work group including the Ocean County Human Relations Commission, the Ocean County Library and the United Church of Christ of Toms River met to develop a program to meet the community’s needs and PFLAG Jersey Shore was born. From its humble beginnings of one support meeting in Toms River, the Jersey Shore chapter has grown to expand its services to meet the needs of LGBTQ individuals and their families in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“PFLAG has had a revolutionary impact on parenting and family values and practices in the U.S. and around the globe,” says Dr. Jaime M. Grant, new Executive Director of PFLAG National, the national organization that supports and resources the grassroots PFLAG chapter network.  “Simply put: Family acceptance saves lives.”

The numbers bear this out: According to The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, highly rejected LGBT young people were more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide; nearly six times as likely to report high levels of depression; more than three times as likely to use illegal drugs; and more than three times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and STDs. However, when families are even slightly more accepting of their LGBTQ loved ones, it will significantly reduce harm and risk.

Here in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, PFLAG Jersey Shore has long championed support services and care for the entire family unit in hopes of keeping families together. We host two monthly support meetings, averaging 60+ attendees each month, have a speaker’s bureau to provide community education, operate a helpline, host information booths at various events throughout the state, and provide technical assistance to other organizations supporting the LGBTQ community. Our speaker’s bureau, consisting of a panel representing the spectrum of people we serve, has spoken at Rutgers University, Monmouth University, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, and Robert Wood Johnson Monmouth Medical Center, libraries, schools, private companies, and annual conventions in hopes of increasing community awareness and advocating for change.

PFLAG is constantly on the forefront, ensuring that LGBTQ people are accepted and supported in order to live, love, learn, work, pray and play equally, fairly, and safely. To learn more about PFLAG Jersey Shore and join in the celebration, visit pflagjerseyshore.org.

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PFLAG is the nation’s largest organization uniting families, allies, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. Committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy, PFLAG has nearly 400 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas across America.