|July 9, 2012|
SPRINGFIELD Baystate Health has been recognized as a "Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality" for the second consecutive year in the Healthcare Equality Index of 2012 report, receiving a perfect rating for its inclusive policies and treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people throughout its western Massachusetts network.
Baystate Health the only health system in New England to receive a perfect score earned top marks for its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who can face challenges in accessing adequate healthcare. The annual survey is conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the country's largest LGBT organization.
"We are proud that Baystate Health has once again been singled out as part of an elite group of national leaders for its commitment to providing unbiased care to the LGBT community of western Massachusetts. Our recognition by the Healthcare Equality Index is a testament not only to the cultural sensitivity of our caregivers, but to our inclusive hiring practices for all," Paula Squires, senior vice president, Human Resources, Baystate Health, said.
Baystate Health was congratulated for its united efforts as a health system by HRC Family Project Director Ellen Kahn. "LGBT patients deeply appreciate the welcoming environment provided by a leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality. It makes a big difference to know that your local health facility is fully committed to giving you the same care it gives your neighbors and co-workers," she said.
Baystate Health was one of a select group of 234 healthcare facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded the title meet several key indicators for equitable care, including nondiscrimination policies for LGBT patients and employees, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff.
Among the nine Baystate Health facilities again singled out for the honor were: Baystate Medical Center, Baystate Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center, Baystate Brightwood Health Center, Baystate High Street Health Center Pediatrics, Baystate High Street Health Center Adult Medicine, all in Springfield; Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice and the Baystate Regional Cancer Program, regional services; as well as Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield and Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware.
The 2012 report details the results of the most recent Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) and found a 40 percent increase in rated facilities, which totaled 407 nationwide. It also found an impressive 162 percent increase in the number of facilities achieving the status of "Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality," special recognition given to facilities like Baystate earning a perfect rating by meeting four core criteria for LGBT patient-centered care in the areas of patient non-discrimination, visitation, employment non-discrimination and training.
The HEI assists hospitals to assess themselves against established best practices and ensure that they are complying with requirements for non-discrimination. These include a requirement issued last year by The Joint Commission, the largest accrediting body for U.S hospitals, calling on all accredited facilities to extend non-discrimination protection to LGBT patients.
More than 90 percent of HEI 2012 participants explicitly prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual patients, and 76 percent ban discrimination against transgender patients. Additionally, about 75 percent of respondents have a written policy explicitly granting equal visitation rights to same-sex couples and same-sex parents. This represents a significant increase since the Department of Health and Human Services issued rules in 2011 requesting all hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding nearly every hospital in America to protect the visitation rights of LGBT people.
For the first time, HEI additionally required participating facilities to document that high-level managers in key work areas had received expert training in LGBT health needs. As a result, more than 1,000 healthcare administrators across the country participated in training provided through the HEI.
"Just a few short years ago the healthcare industry wasn't having conversations about LGBT healthcare equality. Now, thanks to advocacy by the LGBT community and some standout leaders, growing numbers of healthcare providers are making an explicit commitment to treat all patients with dignity and respect. The healthcare industry is beginning to heed the call for fairness and compassion," HRC President Chad Griffin said.
"Equal and inclusive healthcare saves lives. Increasing numbers of hospitals across the country are working to ensure LGBT patients receive care free of prejudice and discrimination. We thank the HEI 2012 participants for their hard work and dedication to ensuring healthcare quality for all patients," he added.
With policies in place to ensure a welcoming environment for LGBT patients and families, Baystate Health puts its policies into practice by offering education on LGBT issues in the workplace for all employees, as well as offering in-service customized programs about transgender healthcare designed to meet the special needs and requests of clinical departments. Members throughout the health system also take time to celebrate with the community in many ways, including participating as lead sponsor in the Northampton LGBT Pride Parade and Rally, one of the biggest LGBT Pride events in New England.
For more information on Baystate Health, visit www.baystatehealth.org. For more information on the HEI 2012, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/hei.
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