Dr. Jane Balbo also serves as a family practice physician at Campus Care, the student health services program for Ohio University students. Balbo is board certified in Family Practice and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, and in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine and Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine (OMM/NMM).
Balbo provides appropriate primary health care services to transgender students at Ohio University, including hormones for male-to-female and female-to-male transitioning. She and her colleague Krista Duval strive to provide care that is in accordance with the World Professional Association for Transgender Healthcare (WPATH) standards of care. She began learning about and providing transgender healthcare when the Ohio University Student Senate passed a resolution in 2011 to provide care to transgender students through the Ohio University student insurance plan.
According to Balbo, the protocols that have been developed for transgender health care that address such issues as hormone dosage and monitoring bloodwork have been helpful to her in learning how to provide appropriate care. She believes all primary care physicians should be able to provide transgender care, as opposed to leaving such care to specialists. Balbo says transgender care includes more than hormones and surgical procedures, and extends to using preferred pronouns, understanding what questions are acceptable or not acceptable, and providing preventative services for body parts a patient may not necessarily feel comfortable with. She may also refer patients for surgery and provide post-operative care.
“I have had students in the past who chose Ohio University specifically because it was trans-friendly and there are trans-competent providers,” Balbo says. She sees her job as not only to provide care for her student patients, but to serve as an activist and advocate working on their behalf to ensure that they get the care they need.
With her colleagues at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Ohio University LGBT Center, Balbo works to educate others about transgender healthcare and she coordinates the LBGT health lab for the medical school. She and her colleagues also collaborate to provide education to the medical students around sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
In her practice, Balbo provides a great deal of education about contraception and STIs, talks with her patients about the risks of STIs, specific risk behaviors and appropriate testing. “Every visit is an opportunity to educate them,” she says. That education also includes discussion about birth control options and the benefits and side effects associated with those various methods.