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|No Georgia hospitals rated ‘top performers’ by HRC|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|June 11, 2010 00:00|
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay political group, released its annual Healthcare Equality Index on June 7. Two Georgia hospitals, both in Atlanta, were among the 178 facilities rated on policies affecting LGBT patients and staff.
Emory University Hospital received credit for having an equal employment opportunity policy that includes sexual orientation.
Piedmont Hospital received credit for having a gay-inclusive Equal Employment policy, as well as visitation policies that give same-sex couples the same access as opposite-sex couples and next of kin, visitation polices that give same-sex partners the same visitation for their minor children as opposite-sex partners, and cultural competency training that includes healthcare issues that impact LGBT people.
It is not included in the survey, but Piedmont Hospital has also partnered with the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative to provide free health screenings.
According to the Healthcare Equality Index, neither Atlanta hospital offered a patients’ bill of rights that includes sexual orientation or gender identity, or an equal employment policy that include gender identity.
Nationwide, some 42 facilities answered “yes” to all of the gay and transgender-inclusive policies. That includes the Kaiser Permanente Network, which includes several locations in Georgia, although none are listed individually in the index.
Kaiser Permanente updated its patients’ bill of rights to include LGBT patients and their families, with the new policies taking effect June 7, according to HRC.
The new policies make Kaiser Permanente the first health network, as opposed to an independent hospital, to earn HRC’s “top performer” status, the group notes.
“The healthcare landscape for LGBT patients and their families is about to change dramatically,” Joe Solmonese, president of the HRC Foundation, said in a press release.
“We all know horror stories of loved ones torn apart, already heart-wrenching decisions made even harder, and basic human rights denied. Bold action by the president and the Joint Commission mean many of those stories will be a thing of the past — and not a moment too soon, because as of right now huge challenges remain on the books.”
In April, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum directing the Department of Health & Human Services to create policies requiring all hospitals that receive federal funding through programs like Medicare and Medicaid to treat LGBT people fairly in visitation and other services.
In addition, HRC reports, “the Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies healthcare facilities, has announced new, fully inclusive patient non-discrimination standards as part of their accreditation process.”
Grady partners with Pride
Atlanta’s non-profit Henry W. Grady Health System, which includes Grady Hospital, was not included in the Healthcare Equality Index.
Lisa Borders, president of the Henry W. Grady Health System Foundation, said she could not determine by press time if the survey was sent to the hospital, but Grady is working to build its relationship with the LGBT community.
Borders previously served as Atlanta City Council president and was endorsed by Georgia Equality in her unsuccessful mayoral bid last year.
“Clearly the LGBT community is important to me, personally and professionally. I have always been LGBT inclusive, and I continue that approach with my presidency at Grady Health Foundation,” Borders said.
Grady Health System will be the medical vendor for Atlanta Pride this year, a relationship Borders said she brokered and hopes to build on for the future.
“We’re very excited and want to continue to grow it into an even more impactful relationship,” Borders said.
Grady includes sexual orientation in its non-discrimination statement and offers domestic partner benefits to employees, according to Borders and Georgia Equality.
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