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Baystate Health Named a Leader in Healthcare Equality Index

August 23, 2011

Media Contact: Keith O’Connor, Keith.O’, 413-794-7656


SPRINGFIELDBaystate Health has received a perfect rating from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for inclusive policies and treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people throughout its western Massachusetts network. Baystate, a ‘top performer’ in the organization’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), is the only health system in New England to be recognized.


The 2011 Healthcare Equality Index report details the results of an annual survey administered by the Foundation. Last year’s report singled out Baystate Medical Center as a top performer; now, eight other Baystate facilities have been recognized, garnering Baystate a system-wide honor for 2011.


The HEI focuses on 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.


Baystate Health earned perfect marks for its policies and practices related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients and their families. Baystate Health was one of 87 survey respondents, including 375 facilities rated in the report.


“We were honored to have Baystate Medical Center recognized last year as one of eight hospitals in the country designated a ‘top performer’ in the Healthcare Equality Index. This year, we are proud to be further recognized as a ‘leader” in LGBT Healthcare Equality, and have expanded this achievement to additional Baystate Health entities,” said Visael “Bobby” Rodriguez, chief diversity officer, Baystate Health.


Among the nine Baystate Health facilities 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.


“Baystate Health is committed to fostering an environment of diversity, inclusion and cultural competence, where all employee are appreciated, fully engaged and motivated to provide the best health care, and where patients and families feel valued and included,” said Rodriguez.


The report details the results of the most recent Healthcare Equality Index, an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. 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.


“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. Quality healthcare saves lives, but too many LGBT Americans are denied that care or are too afraid to seek it because of discrimination and intimidation,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.


With policies in place to ensure a welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and families, Baystate Health puts it 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 in the Northampton (MA) LGBT Parade and Rally, one of the biggest LGBT Pride events in New England.


For more information on the Healthcare Equality Index 2011, or to download a free copy of the report, visit


About Baystate Health

Baystate Health, based in Springfield, MA, is a private, not-for-profit health system - one of the largest in New England - serving a population of 800,000 residents in western Massachusetts. Recognized nationally for quality and safety, it is the region’s largest private employer and includes its flagship, Baystate Medical Center, the region’s only academic medical center, as well as Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, and several health centers and numerous medical practices.


About the Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.