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BIDMC Pride-LGBTAchievment Awards

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Advisory Committee

On June 7, 2011, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center celebrated its 18th annual LGBT Achievement Award Ceremony and PRIDE Celebration. This year's theme, Making It Better, reflects BIDMC's culture of inclusion and the optimism and hope of the medical center's LGBT community. It follows the powerful anti-bullying movement, It Gets Better, which took hold in a dramatic fashion, enhancing the safety net for LGBTQ youth in school settings around the country.

One of the first hospital's with a recognized LGBT Advisory Committee, our mission is to bring together employees and staff to create a work environment that is inclusive, equitable, and acknowledges the rich diversity within our workforce. The Committee also spearheads issues related to patient care, including policies that ensure that families and visitors are welcomed and treated with respect.

BIDMC kicked off PRIDE week under the theme of Making It Better, reflecting BIDMC's culture of inclusion and the optimism and hope of the medical center's LGBT community. This year's theme follows the powerful anti-bullying movement, It Gets Better, which took hold in a dramatic fashion, enhancing the safety net for LGBTQ youth in school settings around the country.

A video created by BIDMC's LGBT Advisory Committee was unveiled at the medical center's 18th annual LGBT Achievement Awards celebration honoring Stacey Adamson, Rehabilitation Services, and Jim Arrington, Information Systems. Watch the video below.

"When I first came to the BIDMC in 2000, I was a little anxious about coming out to people," recalled Adamson. "But standing on the sidelines, watching PRIDE that first year, I saw the BIDMC crew come around the corner marching in the parade and I really can't describe that feeling-I was awed and proud and happy and also a little relieved. It made me feel much more comfortable being who I was at BIDMC."

Now, Adamson, who works as a physical therapist for adults and newborns in the NICU, says more than anything she's very thankful to work in a place like Beth Israel Deaconess, a place that does honor and celebrate diversity. Looking out at her colleagues dressed in a sea of green scrubs, Adamson said, "It feels much more to me like a family than a department. There have been times in my life that I haven't always had the best support from my own family, but the support from these people here have never failed me."

Adamson is a long-standing member of BIDMC's LGBT Advisory Committee, providing a "voice" to the LGBT patient experience and working with the Committee to examine and guide policies and procedures including this year's focus on caring for transgender individuals. "It is so incredibly important for me as a clinician to make sure that my patients always feel comfortable being themselves and that they know this is a safe place to talk about any aspect of their lives, because that is so connected to their health and well-being." she said.

Adamson serves as co-marshal of BIDMC's PRIDE Parade team, adding to the numbers of marchers by recruiting just about everyone in Rehabilitation Services. She raises funds for AIDS research through the Harbor to the Bay 125 mile ride from Boston to Provincetown; she's the Assistant Commissioner for the Boston Women's Flag Football League and she plays in the Boston Alternative Women's Softball League.

In introducing LGBT Achievement Award winner, Jim Arrington, John Halamka, MD, Chief Information Officer, recalled the day in December 1998 when he learned that he would become CIO. "The first thing I did was go to the help desk and sit down with Jim. I asked him to tell me about what worked and what didn't work," said Halamka "Jim was sort of my navigator and those conversations lead to many of the great changes we've made in IS."

Thirteen years later, Arrington is manager of the IS Help Desk, where he and his team field thousands of calls each week, trouble shooting computer problems, providing IT access to the thousands of BIDMC-affiliated users and offering educational opportunities to improve employees' efficiency on using available IT technology.

Arrington's proclivity to help others extends beyond the IS department. He has been an anchor of the medical center's LGBT Advisory Committee, serving as co-marshal of BIDMC's PRIDE parade team for many years. "It's that spirit I want to bring back to our patients and staff," said Arrington. He was one of the organizers of BIDMC's first LGBT movie night, a tradition that will continue this year with the film debut of Gen Silent on June 14. Arrington also created the Facebook page, BIDMC LGBT Community and Friends, where he publishes regular updates on LGBT happenings at the medical center. And he helped organize a 2010 Harvard Medical School-wide conference for LGBT Health Awareness Week called "Bridging the Gap: A Discussion on the Future of LGBT Healthcare."

Guests at the awards event were treated to the poetry of Rafael Campo, MD, Healthcare Associates. A BIDMC primary care doctor for 15 years, Campo focuses on caring for patients with HIV and AIDS. He shared a poem called Recent Past Events as a reminder that we still have a long way to go in fighting this disease. Campo also read a poem written lovingly for his husband of six years called Defense of Marriage.

Keynote speaker Kara Suffredini, Esq., Executive Director of MassEquality, hailed major successes in Massachusetts including achieving marriage equality, the passing of the MassHealth Equality Bill, securing Senator Scott Brown's vote to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and guiding changes at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles making it possible for transgendered individuals to amend their drivers licenses to reflect their true selves.

Suffredini noted that while there have been my accomplishments, there is still a long road ahead. "I have been asked if it's still necessary for us in Massachusetts to engage in powerful public displays of PRIDE, like this one today," said Suffredini. "And I say yes, it's still so very important to celebrate our successes and commemorate the commitment to making it better."

BIDMC capped its PRIDE week celebration by recognizing the work of John Auerbach, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). "John is a long-time friend of Beth Israel Deaconess and one of the strongest advocates for public health and health equity that Massachusetts has ever known," said Eric Buehrens, Interim President and CEO. Auerbach joins BIDMC employees Stacey Adamson, Rehabilitation Services and Jim Arrington as honorees of the medical center's 18th Annual LGBT Achievement Awards.

"BIDMC is a leader in LGBT care and rights much in the same way it has always provided equitable care for everyone," said Auberbach. "It really is a unique institution to be investing in this way."

Auerbach was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick in April 2007. He leads a 3,000 employee department that includes four public health hospitals, the State Laboratory, several regulatory bodies, and numerous programs that address racial and ethnic disparities, chronic disease, wellness initiatives (including the Mass in Motion campaign) and efforts to support implementation of the state's health care reform initiative.

In 2009, the MDPH published The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Persons in Massachusetts, the largest "snapshot" ever taken of the health of LGBT communities in the Commonwealth.

"We need to take seriously the relationship between discrimination and poor health outcomes. Clearly you all have done a lot here," said Auberbach. "It's essential for institutions like yours to continue to document and report health information because that data provides vital input to guide public heath policy."

Prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Auerbach served as the Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission for nine years. Under his leadership, the commission implemented the strongest tobacco control regulations in the nation and developed new initiatives on cancer, heart disease, asthma, obesity, and emergency preparedness, as well as a broad-based and comprehensive campaign to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. He previously worked at the MDPH, first as the Chief of Staff and later as an Assistant Commissioner responsible for the HIV/AIDS Bureau from 1990 - 1998, a most crucial period of the AIDS epidemic..

Click here for a complete list of PRIDE Week events.