Celebrating Pride: Katelyn Ferreira

Katelyn Ferreira joined Southcoast Health in January 2023 as the Health Equity Program Manager.

She also serves as the co-chair of More Pride Southcoast, our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group.

“I became passionate about health equity as soon as I learned what it meant,” says Katelyn, who grew up in the South Coast region. Katelyn’s role allows her to combine her passions for public health and social justice in service to the community where she was born and raised. “I’m honored to do this work every day,” she adds.

During her time in graduate school, Katelyn had the opportunity to work with Southcoast Health’s Community Health and Wellness team – formally known as the Community Benefits team – to directly engage with communities across the region. She has also worked with families involved with DCF, children with psychiatric diagnoses, and incarcerated adults. She witnessed the barriers that these individuals face in accessing necessary resources for their health and well-being. This experience led Katelyn to focus on social drivers of health in graduate school. She appreciates the opportunity to continue to work with these wonderful teams and says she is fortunate to see some familiar faces. 

Katelyn’s current work at Southcoast is focused on understanding health disparities in our community and addressing the root causes of these issues. “To do this, we need to collect accurate, reliable, self-reported data from patients [by asking] patients about their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, and more,” Katelyn comments. “Then, we can work with our amazing analytic teams to dig into that data to see disparities or preventable gaps in health outcomes between groups.”

Katelyn recognizes that forces like structural racism, ableism, and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community often lead to worse health outcomes, higher rates of depression, and even higher rates of some cancers in minoritized groups. “Here at Southcoast, we started to collect sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data from our patients in August 2022, which will let us see gaps like these in our very own communities,” she shares.

Another big piece of Katelyn’s work is taking action to address the disparities that are identified. Katelyn added, “While we’re collecting data, there is still plenty that we can do now! For example, we know about disparities in clinical areas like diabetes, and I’m involved in working with clinical and community teams to figure out the best ways to close gaps for these patients.” In addition to these efforts, Katelyn’s work includes collaboration with Southcoast’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) team. “Our employees are a big part of our community, and we know that provider and employee diversity can help our community as a whole receive better healthcare,” she says.

Katelyn is proud to co-chair More Pride Southcoast, as it allows her to collaborate with individuals across Southcoast and the communities we serve. “This work is impossible to do without deep collaboration,” she says.

The Significance of Pride Month

To Katelyn, “Pride month is a chance to celebrate how hard the LGBTQ+ community has fought, and how much love, beauty, and resilience has resonated throughout those fights. It’s also a moment to re-energize and build community, solidarity, and inspiration as we continue to fight for shared liberation.”

Celebrating Pride Month

In the past, Katelyn has celebrated Pride Month in many ways. One of her most memorable experiences was organizing, marshaling, and participating in the Queer Liberation March (QLM) in New York City with the Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC).

“I participated in my first QLM in 2019, and it brought tens of thousands of people into the streets. It followed the route of the original Christopher Street Liberation Day March that took place in 1970, in observation of the Stonewall Inn riots the year prior,” Katelyn says. “It was so powerful to be in a multigenerational, diverse community of people, taking to the streets in a people-focused march in the footsteps of our LGBTQ+ elders,” she continued.

This year, Katelyn is excited to celebrate Pride at home with her community, which includes many of her Southcoast colleagues.

On Southcoast and the LGBTQ+ Community 

When asked about her thoughts on Southcoast’s work to support the LGBTQ+ community, Katelyn shared, “Southcoast’s commitment to creating a welcoming and knowledgeable environment and promoting health equity drives the work I do every day. I was inspired by how much work was being done when I started in this role. Shout out to Barb Schmidt, who has driven so much of this work, and who, in her retirement, leaves a legacy that will affect our patients and communities well into the future!”

She continued, “On a personal note, I’m a member of the LBGTQ+ community, and providers might not know that about me without asking. Having the opportunity to self-report SOGI information gives me a chance to share more about myself with providers, which can not only advance health equity but also helps build relationships to receive the best care possible.”

What about the future?

Looking ahead, Katelyn is eager to continue advocating for the LGBTQ+ community of patients and staff at Southcoast. She aims to find creative ways to make healthcare more accessible for LGBTQ+ patients, especially trans and nonbinary patients who are seeking gender-affirming care.

In closing, Katelyn shared, “One of the things I love about the More Pride Southcoast ERG is that it’s a community in which we, as LGBTQ+ community members, family members, and allies, share experiences… and that always inspires me with new ways to move this work forward!”

For more information on how Southcoast Health is celebrating Pride Month, visit Recognizing Pride Month | Southcoast Health.