Tampa | The Diversity Health Center of Tampa Bay, dedicated to evidence-based patient care and to developing long-lasting relationships within the community it serves, is open for business.
Dr. David W. Lyter, who came out in the early 1980s, has “been doing gay men’s healthcare ever since.” He formerly served Tampa Bay as the medical director for Metro Wellness & Community Centers, and says he founded the new facility to “focus on a broader type of medical care.”
“Not just to focus on [Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, or] PrEP, [sexually-transmitted diseases, or] STDs or transgender care specifically,” he says, “but to broaden to a more primary care that includes all of that. To expand to a larger segment of the gay and lesbian population, by including those who are older, Medicare-age… and to make it more of a general primary care practice that also does HIV and STD work or transgender care.”
Currently, he works as the office’s sole physician with one medical assistant and an office manager, though he intends for the facility to add a second medical assistant in the coming months. The office features two large exam rooms, with a third available for conversion, and lab work is collected in-house.
Patients are also encouraged to utilize the health center’s website portal to enroll for services electronically. “We’re very electronically based here,” Lyter says. “It helps with efficiency.”
“Everyone is welcome,” he asserts, but notes that they’re “marketing almost exclusively to the gay and lesbian community.” Currently, the facility is credentialed with Cigna, though they’re eager to work directly with other insurance companies, mainly Florida Blue.
“We hope to eventually get enrolled in all of the major plans,” he says. “It just takes time. When you start a new practice there’s a timeframe of a month to sometimes six months. I’ve been in practice in Florida since 1999, but when you open a new practice you have to start the process over.”
Individuals who can afford self-pay are welcome, the doctor also says, adding that it’s his hope to someday have the funding that would allow him to offer medical care to those who are underinsured or uninsured. “Metro is obviously a good source for that,” he says. “It’s a matter of basic finances… I hope to develop the ability to do that.”
As for why he serves the LGBTQ community specifically, Lyter says “there’s a language and a knowledge that gay men have that is foreign to people not part of the community. ‘Tops and bottoms’ and that type of thing, terms that most primary care doctors might not be comfortable using.”
He believes that understanding the lives led by those in the LGBTQ community is paramount in successful LGBTQ health care. “For STD and HIV work, there are essential questions to ask [about] sexual behavior and practices, in order to understand risks for HIV or infections, and to know how to screen and what to test.”
Lyter ultimately settled on the office’s location because he “wanted something centrally located that could serve most of Hillsborough County,” he says, “and then be accessible from Pinellas as well.”
“I want to be available as a primary care doctor for the needs of the community and to be available for acute concerns, rather than people going to urgent care,” Lyter says. He believes it’s important to have a doctor “who has knowledge of the patient, who has a history of the patient, [and] who is comfortable with all the different predicaments, especially that the gay male community may face.”
The Diversity Health Center of Tampa Bay, located at 4302 N. Habana Avenue, Ste. 200 in Tampa, is open now. For more information about available treatments, services, Dr. Lyter or his staff, visit diversityhealthcenter.com or call 813-518-0881.