Metro Weekly

HRC Gives Top Marks to Area Health Care Providers

Washington-area medical centers make the list of LGBT-friendly facilities on 2013 Healthcare Equality Index

Washington-area hospitals and medical centers are at the forefront providing LGBT-competent patient service and care, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s 2013 Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), released this month.

The HEI, which surveyed 309 different hospitals, community health centers or veterans’ medical centers, representing a total of 718 individual health care facilities, shows that American hospitals and clinics are increasingly adopting or wish to adopt and implement practices or policies that provide equal treatment for LGBT patients.

In 2012, only one veterans’ care center participated in the HEI. This year, 121 veterans’ care centers participated.

”The country’s healthcare facilities are leading figures in our nation’s movement toward full equality and inclusion for LGBT Americans,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement announcing the release of the 2013 HEI. ”The Department of Veterans Affairs’ participation in the HEI is another example of President Obama’s unwavering commitment to those who put their lives on the line for the country they love, regardless of who they love.”

While sexual orientation has often been included in patient and employment nondiscrimination policies going back to 2010, there has been a significant increase in facilities adopting such policies with regard to gender identity. In 2010, less than a third of surveyed facilities had gender-identity-inclusive policies, compared to more than 85 percent in 2013.

The HEI, funded in part by grants from Pfizer Inc. and PhRMA, scores respondents on four core areas: patient nondiscrimination policies; explicitly LGBT-inclusive visitation policies, and clearly communicating those policies; employment nondiscrimination policies; and whether a facility provides training in LGBT-sensitive care.

Locally, 16 respondents, representing 24 different facilities, earned a ”leader” designation, meaning they complied fully with all criteria.

In the District, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Georgetown Medical Center, Hadley Specialty Hospital of Washington, the Veterans’ Affairs Washington D.C. Medical Center and Whitman-Walker Health earned the distinction.

D.C.’s George Washington University, Howard University and Sibley Memorial Hospitals did not participate in the 2013 HEI. According to their responses from the 2012 HEI, they would have met all criteria except the requirement related to communicating their LGBT-inclusive visitation policies.

United Medical Center also fell short of that communication requirement, and was unable to provide documentation proving its employment-nondiscrimination policy includes gender identity. Providence Hospital’s employment-nondiscrimination policy does not include gender identity, nor does the hospital provide LGBT-culturally sensitive training for staff members.

In Maryland, eight facilities were named leaders: Baltimore-based Chase Brexton, Bon Secours, Johns Hopkins Hospitals, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, Veterans’ Affairs Baltimore Medical Center, Northwest Hospital Center of Randallstown, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital of Rockville, and Washington Adventist Hospital of Takoma Park.

Sinai Hospital of Baltimore lacks an explicit LGBT-inclusive visitation policy. The University of Maryland Medical Center lacks a patient nondiscrimination policy that includes gender identity and does not provide LGBT-patient-centered care training. Greater Baltimore Medical Center lacks all criteria except for an employment nondiscrimination policy that includes only sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

In Virginia, all 10 hospitals that took part in the 2013 HEI were named leaders, including the Veterans Affair’s Hampton Medical Center, Hunter Holmes McGuire Medical Center in Richmond and Salem Medical Center. The other seven Virginia facilities are run by Bon Secours Health System: Memorial Regional Medical Center in Mechanicsville, St. Francis Medical Center in Midlothian, Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk, Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth, Richmond Community Hospital, and St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond.

”No one should have to worry about receiving discriminatory healthcare,” Griffin said in a statement. ”We’re very pleased to offer hospitals and clinics a comprehensive resource for equitable care, and we celebrate all of those who used the HEI 2013 to welcome LGBT patients, employees and families.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at