Post submitted by Eva Walton, HRC Alabama faith organizer
More than thirty Alabama healthcare industry leaders joined Human Rights Campaign staff at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital on Thursday, March 24 to celebrate the launch of the 2016 HRC Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) and to honor Alabama HEI leaders in LGBTQ healthcare equality.
An annual survey, the HEI is used by inpatient and outpatient healthcare organizations nationwide to strengthen the care they give LGBTQ patients and support to LGBTQ healthcare staff. Participating healthcare facilities are scored in four areas of LGBTQ inclusion: Non-discrimination and staff training, LGBTQ patient services and support, LGBTQ patient and community engagement, and employee benefits and policies. Healthcare facilities meeting all of these core four criteria for LGBTQ patient-centered care earn the status of “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality.”
In Alabama, the number of healthcare organizations ranked HEI Leaders doubled in 2016. At the HEI 2016 launch event in Birmingham, HRC staff including Deputy Director of Health and Aging, Tari Hanneman, honored leadership from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, Cooper Green Mercy Health Services, Medical West Health Centers, and the VA Medical Centers in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery for achieving 2016 “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” status.
Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President, applauded Alabama’s HEI leaders for advancing healthcare equality for LGBTQ Alabamians, recognizing how critical it is that that they have access to and a strong level of comfort with their medical provider. “We think of issues like healthcare, where people are engaging vulnerably with daily institutions of life - that lived experience is important to people.”
Project One America Director Ben Needham challenged Alabama’s healthcare leaders not to rest on the gains seen in the 2016 HEI because many LGBTQ patients still face discrimination or harassment from healthcare providers and healthcare facilities staff. In Alabama, Needham reminded attendees, “almost fifty percent of LGBTQ persons report that they do not consider their doctor to be LGBTQ friendly.” All too often, fear of discrimination in healthcare and a lack of access to LGBTQ-competent healthcare providers can keep Alabamians from receiving the care they need and deserve.
HRC will continue to engage more healthcare organizations and facilities across the state of Alabama as we seek to double our numbers of healthcare leaders once again in the 2017 HEI.
If you have a story of a positive or negative experience as an LGBTQ person with a local healthcare provider, feel free to contact Eva Walton Kendrick (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share your story with us.