BIDMC recognized for LGBT care
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has been named a Leader in the 2011 LGBT Healthcare Equality Index report, an annual survey published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that tracks policies and practices related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients and their families.
BIDMC was one of 27 survey respondents, representing 375 facilities rated in the report, to meet all criteria related to key policies and practices that lay the foundation for a welcoming environment for LGBT patients and families. These policies include: patient and employment non-discrimination, visitation and cultural competency training for staff.
The report found that while an increasing number of US healthcare facilities are working toward a more welcoming environment for LGBT patients and families, work remains to be done to end discrimination against LGBT people in America's healthcare system.
This year's survey found that nearly 90 percent of survey respondents include sexual orientation in their Patient's Bill of Rights and/or Non-Discrimination Policy, but only 60 percent include gender identity in these policies. Additionally, only 49 percent of respondents have an explicitly inclusive visitation policy granting equal access for same-sex couples and 52 percent have such a policy inclusive of same-sex parents.
In response to a memorandum from President Obama, the Department of Health and Human Services issued rules in January of this year requiring all hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding - nearly every hospital in America - to protect the visitation rights of LGBT people. Additionally the Joint Commission, which accredits U.S. hospitals, has new standards that encourage LGBT-inclusive policies.
"Over the past year landmark rules and regulations regarding LGBT healthcare equality have been introduced, but there is work left to be done for healthcare facilities to fulfill the spirit of these policies," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Studies have shown in sad and stunning clarity the health disparities faced by the LGBT community and discrimination is all too present in the nation's hospitals. This is a healthcare emergency that must be addressed in order to save lives."
In March, the Institute of Medicine released a report highlighting health disparities and detailing the need for more federal research and data collection on the health of LGBT people. The authors of the report recommended collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity in federal health surveys and programs and called on the National Institutes of Health to lay out a research agenda regarding LGBT health issues. Studies have shown that many LGBT people avoid seeking healthcare in times of need out of fear of discrimination and poor treatment by healthcare professionals.
For more information on the Healthcare Equality Index 2011 or to download a free copy of the report, click here.