By Chris Hoenig
When it comes to understanding the needs of diverse communities, including the LGBT community, not all hospitals are the same. Improving patient outcomes by providing culturally competent care is the focus of a DiversityInc healthcare summit this September, including presentations on equitable care and improved outreach to the LGBT community.
The Human Rights Campaign, which will present at the event, released its 2013 Healthcare Equality Index this month, a measurement of equality in care and employment for LGBT patients and practitioners. Seven of DiversityInc’s Top 10 Hospital Systems earned HRC’s highest rating.
To qualify as an HRC “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality,” facilities had to be able to provide documentation proving that they meet guidelines in four core criteria: patient nondiscrimination policy, equal visitation rights, employment nondiscrimination policy and training in LGBT-patient-centered care. The core criteria are further broken down into more specific actions, such as making sure that patient and employee nondiscrimination policies include both the term “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and that these policies are communicated to patients and visitors in “at least two readily accessible ways.” A hospital had to comply with every guideline to be designated as a Leader.
The DiversityInc Top 10 Hospital Systems
A total of 24 facilities owned and operated by companies in the DiversityInc Top 10 Hospital Systems achieved Leader status.
University Hospitals (No. 1 in the DiversityInc Top 10 Hospital Systems) has 10 facilities on the list. “We have made it a corporate priority and a strategic business process to nurture and strengthen a culture of diversity and inclusion, both within our system and across our community,” CEO Thomas Zenty III says. The system’s Ohio-based Leader facilities include: UH Ahuja Medical Center, UH Bedford Medical Center, UH Case Medical Center, UH Conneaut Medical Center, UH Geauga Medical Center, UH Geneva Medical Center, UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, UH Richmond Medical Center and UH Seidman Cancer Center.
Henry Ford Health System (No. 2) has six Michigan-based Leader facilities. “Our rich diversity makes us a better company and helps us connect with the healthcare needs of our patients and their families,” CEO Nancy Schlichting says. Henry Ford Behavioral Health Services, Henry Ford Hospital, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, Henry Ford Medical Group, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital all received Leader rankings.
Continuum Health Partners (No. 4) has two New York City hospitals on the list: Beth Israel Medical Center and St. Luke’s–Roosevelt Hospital Center. In addition to site diversity councils and subcommittees, Continuum also has an LGBT communities resource group.
North Shore–LIJ Health System (No. 9) is represented by three New York hospitals. On the DiversityInc rankings for the first time, North Shore–LIJ is known for its outreach to the LGBT community, which has also been recognized by the HRC. Lennox Hill Hospital, Southside Hospital and Staten Island University Hospital all achieved Leader designation in the HEI.
Massachusetts General Hospital (No. 7), Rush University Medical Center (No. 8) and University of New Mexico Hospitals (No. 10), all rated as single facilities, also achieved a perfect four-for-four and are therefore recognized as Leader hospitals by the HEI.
Two Cleveland Clinic (No. 3) facilities—its main campus in Ohio and Cleveland Clinic Florida—narrowly missed the HEI Leader list, gaining approved rankings in three of the four core criteria.
While not included in DiversityInc’s Top 10 Hospital Systems, Kaiser Permanente—a larger healthcare provider that ranks No. 3 in the DiversityInc Top 50—is well represented among HEI Leader facilities. Thirty-eight Kaiser properties in three states—California, Hawaii and Oregon—are recognized in the HEI.
More to Learn
A 2010 Lambda Legal study, quoted by the HEI, noted that 29 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual patients fear they will be treated differently by medical personnel, while that number rose to 73 percent for transgender patients. More than half of transgender patients (and 9 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual patients) fear they will be refused care because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
These statistics highlight the need for improved patient experiences in the LGBT community at the times of greatest need. The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act opens up spousal healthcare benefits for federal employees, but while some financial fears are eased, the care LGBT patients get for the money remains a concern.
The Human Rights Campaign and University Hospitals will offer more detail on the HEI and how to develop successful outreach programs for the LGBT community at Culturally Competent Healthcare: How Diversity Creates Better Outcomes , DiversityInc’s event on Sept.24 in Newark, N.J. Guest presenters include Donnie Perkins, Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion, University Hospitals, and Shane Snowdon, Director, Health and Aging Program, Human Rights Campaign.