The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization, has again named UC Davis Medical Center a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” in its annual Healthcare Equality Index report.
This is the fifth consecutive year that the medical center has been recognized for its role in advancing LGBT equity in the health-care environment.
The Healthcare Equality Index is the foundation’s national benchmarking tool that evaluates health care facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBT patients, visitors and employees. The 2015 index evaluated more than 1,500 facilities around the country.
The medical center earned top marks for meeting the foundation’s four core criteria for leadership excellence, which include non-discrimination policies for patients and employees, equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and training in LGBT patient-centered care.
“We’re honored to be nationally recognized for our commitment to a welcoming and inclusive environment for our patients, their families and our employees,” said Ann Madden Rice, chief executive officer for the medical center. “Along with patient safety and quality care, equity and inclusion are top priorities at UC Davis and we are dedicated to maintaining our leadership excellence.”
UC Davis has long been committed to providing equitable and inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who often face significant challenges in obtaining adequate health care. Equally important are employment opportunities and a workplace environment that do not discriminate against anyone because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 2013, UC Davis Health System became the first academic health system in the country to begin incorporating sexual orientation and gender identity as standardized demographic information within its electronic health record system. Patients are invited to voluntarily share sexual orientation and gender identity information. Physicians and patient advocates say the measure is a key step toward improving health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
A 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report noted that the meager amount of research data about LGBT health consistently points to severe health disparities for LGBT communities. Alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicidal risk and chronic diseases that are often ignored appear to be problems that affect a disproportionate share of these minority populations. It is a key reason why the IOM report suggested that it was important to proactively encourage LGBT people to participate in their own health care. Historically, many LGBT patients avoided clinical visits because they either experienced or feared bias of their medical providers, or because they worried about being humiliated or rejected.
In addition to electronic health record information categories for LGBT patients, UC Davis Health System also identifies physicians in its online health-providers list who self-identify, based on experience and comfort level, as “LGBT welcoming.”
The Healthcare Equality Index 2016 report will be released in March of next year during LGBT Health Awareness Week. For more information, visit www.hrc.org/hei.