VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System
VAAAHS Receives HRC Award - HEI
ANN ARBOR – For the fourth year in a row, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS) has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.
The findings were part of HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index 2016, a unique annual survey that encourages equal care for LGBT Americans, and recognizes healthcare institutions doing the best work.
VAAAHS earned top marks in meeting non-discrimination and training criteria that demonstrate its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients, and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing the quality health care and respect they deserve.
Dr. Eric Young, Acting Director for VAAAHS, said that providing the highest quality health care for all Veterans is part of the culture in Ann Arbor, so create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all patients is expected.
“We are very proud of our dedicated staff and the quality of care that we provide to all of our Veterans,” said Dr. Young. “Creating an environment we can be proud of is part of the proactive, Veteran-Centered care that we are known for.”
A record 2,061 healthcare facilities were rated in the HRC Foundation’s 2016 HEI survey, up 37 percent from the last survey. And VAAAHS was among an unprecedented 496 healthcare centers from all regions of the U.S. to earn the Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality designation this year.
“We are thrilled that a record number of healthcare facilities have committed to providing fully LGBT-inclusive healthcare for the patients they care for each year, as well as to protecting their LGBT workers from discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Over the last several years, our nation has made substantial progress on LGBT equality, including historic gains in the availability of full-inclusive healthcare.”
To earn healthcare leader status, facilities must have established LGBT-inclusive patient non-discrimination policies, as well as employment non-discrimination policies that are fully LGBT-inclusive. They also ensure equal visitation rights for LGBT people, patients and families; and their staff members participate in training in LGBT patient-centered care.
“VAAAHS joins diverse healthcare facilities across the U.S. making tremendous strides toward LGBT patient-centered care,” said Tari Hanneman, author of the HEI and Deputy Director of the HRC Foundation’s Health and Aging Program. “In unprecedented numbers, they are committing to fully LGBT-inclusive policies for both their patients and their employees.”
While a record number of healthcare centers earned leader designation this year, too many continue to fall short in providing vital patient and employee non-discrimination protections. Nearly half of the facilities that were independently researched by HRC Foundation staff performed poorly, particularly in the area of non-discrimination policies: only 58 percent have patient non-discrimination policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity; and just 53 percent have LGBT-inclusive employment non-discrimination policies. And four states have no facilities earning leader status this year: Alaska, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.
The HEI’s findings demonstrate the patchwork of protections nationwide for LGBT patients and their families, as well as LGBT healthcare facility employees, underscoring the need for uniform federal non-discrimination protections. LGBT Americans are facing a harsh choice between healthcare facilities that have policies that guarantee them equal care, and those that have consistently failed to take steps to ensure all patients receive inclusive, compassionate and respectful care.
The good news? The number of active HEI participants continues to grow, and their leaders are striving to meet HRC’s criteria for equal treatment of LGBT patients, as well as employees, and are succeeding. Many are going well beyond the survey’s criteria to do right by all their patients and workers by adopting additional HRC-recommended best practices, including offering employees trans-inclusive health insurance coverage.
“I commend leaders of these inclusive facilities for using HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index as a roadmap, and for advancing equality in health care for our nation’s LGBT patients, their families, and for medical providers and caregivers,” Griffin said. “We still have much work to do to achieve full equality, but today we have a record number of leaders setting an example for other healthcare facilities across our nation.”
Read the full HEI report here.