Contact: Keith J. O’Connor, Senior Public Affairs Specialist
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SPRINGFIELD – Baystate Health has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” for the third consecutive year in the Healthcare Equality Index of 2013 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 earned top marks for its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who can face significant 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 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) organization.
"Baystate Health is proud once again to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign for our commitment in providing quality patient experiences to the LGBT community. We also take pride in our demonstrated equitable hiring practices resulting in making Baystate Health an LGBT friendly workplace,” said Andres Gonzalez, chief diversity officer for Baystate Health.
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 in 2011 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. In addition, both The Joint Commission and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) now require that facilities allow visitation without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Baystate Health was congratulated for its united efforts as a health system by HRC Health and Aging Director Shane Snowdon. “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.
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.
Baystate Health was one of a select group of 464 healthcare facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded the title meet key criteria 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. All HEI Equality Leaders must document that they have adopted – and publicized – foundational policies for LGBT equity and inclusion, as well as having registered their staff for expert training in living out those policies to ensure truly LGBT patient-centered care.
The 2013 report details the results of the most recent Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) and found an unparalleled 153 percent increase in rated facilities, which totaled 718 nationwide. It also found an impressive 199 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.
“A key goal for the HEI 2013 was to achieve participation from healthcare facilities in every state, and this goal was resoundingly achieved. We are particularly proud to report that this breakthrough was due in part to participation by 80 percent of the medical centers in the Veterans Health Administration in the HEI 2013, with 76 percent of them being awarded Equality Leader status,” wrote Chad Griffin, HRC Foundation president, in the report.
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 (MA) 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 Healthcare Equality Index 2013, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/hei.