People of KHSC: Nicholas Axas
People of KHSC celebrates individuals across KHSC who capture the spirit of caring deeply for patients, families and each other
Celebrating his authentic self is something Nicholas Axas believes in doing every day, not just during Pride Month in June. Ditto, he says, for his workplace at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), where he serves as operational director of the mental health and addiction care program.
“Part of the reason I moved to Canada was because I didn’t feel safe to be a gay man in the U.S., to be open about who I am. If you can’t express yourself as you truly are and engage in activities with your work teammates and share your life, then that can be problem. It’s hard to do a good job if you’re worrying in the back of your head that people are talking about you or judging you.
“At KHSC my sexuality has never been an issue. If anything, it’s celebrated. It’s a place that seeks input from people in the LGBTQI2S community and that goes out of the way to make sure we work on changing policies for the better, for example by making washrooms gender neutral or posting welcoming signage in our clinics or looking at ways to ensure patients can identify as their affirmed gender when they come to hospital.
“These kinds of thing are huge when it comes to health. In the LGBTQI2S community we know about stigma, and we know the community has a higher incidence of substance abuse, suicide and self-harm. Transgender people have a 70 per cent higher suicide rate.
“Being able to come into the hospital and not having to worry about hiding that part of your life does wonders for your physical and mental health. It makes a big difference if you can talk openly with your care provider because you’re both looking through the lens of gay or lesbian or trans health.
“Some people aren’t ready to come out but I think it’s important that they know that KHSC is a place that hears you and respects you. It’s not an organization that pays lip service one month of the year. It acts every day. That’s what makes me want to come to work. I feel that the people here have got my back.”
People of KHSC celebrates individuals across Kingston Health Sciences Centre who capture the spirit of caring deeply for patients, families and each other. Follow #myKHSC on Instagram to get the latest People of KHSC and more.