Dr. Shilpen Patel is an oncologist at the University of Washington Medical Center and serves as the chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "It's a matter from a health care perspective that we create an environment that [being gay] is completely accepted," Patel said at Washington Post Live's Caregiving in America forum, "whether that is posting nondiscrimination policies in your hospital or workplace, or whether it's in care facilities." (Meena Ganesan/Washington Post Live)

Shilpen Patel at Washington Post Live’s Caregiving in America forum in Seattle. (Photo by Scott Eklund/The Washington Post)

“From the health-care provider perspective, when a patient comes to me with their family, it is not only about addressing the patient, but their support structure as well. I’ll often spend just as much time talking with the patient as I will with the family as a whole, addressing their needs and making sure that they are also well taken care of because if they’re not taken care of, they can’t take care of the patient.

“We are often taking care of our friends. I am seeing that more and more as a health-care provider — individuals come in and it is not necessarily their children who are there caregiving for them. It’s their best friend or their neighbor who they’ve known for 20 or 30 years.”

-Shilpen Patel, oncologist, University of Washington Medical Center