On March 29, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC Foundation) released its tenth annual Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), recognizing Middlesex Hospital as one of 303 “Leaders in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality.” Middlesex Hospital is the only general, acute hospital in Connecticut to receive this recognition. The other facilities in Connecticut that received this distinction were the Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.

In a press release issued on March 29, the hospital commented on its recognition by the HEI.

“At Middlesex Hospital, we are committed to helping everyone who walks through our doors, and we do this by putting the needs of our patients at the center of everything we do,” said Hospital CEO Vincent G. Capece, Jr. “Earning the designation of being a leader in LGBTQ health care equality is a natural byproduct of putting our beliefs into action.”

To achieve this distinction, Middlesex Hospital received the maximum score in each of the HRC Foundation’s four policy categories: Non-Discrimination and Staff Training, Patient Services and Support, Employee Benefits and Policies, and Patient and Community Engagement.

In addition to the 590 facilities that participated in the survey, the HRC Foundation also surveyed 900 non-participating hospitals. The policies in place at these non-participating facilities were in stark contrast to the policies at participating hospitals: only 61 percent have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity and sexual orientation and only 52 percent have LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policies.

According to the report, the three states with the highest numbers of “Leaders of LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” in 2017 were California (77), New York (49), and North Carolina (22). North Carolina’s success in the HEI is surprising in light of House Bill 2, which was passed in 2016 and eliminated all existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals and banned any future protections.

“Hospitals and healthcare systems in North Carolina fought back. Many reassured their employees of their commitment to LGBTQ diversity and inclusion, and some spoke out publicly against HB2…Several hospitals in North Carolina made a commitment to LGBTQ inclusion by participating in the HEI for the first time, and many of them achieved the Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality designation. This year, 28 hospitals in North Carolina participated in the HEI, and 22 of them earned the Leader designation,” the report said.

The report includes an outline of the HEI’s scoring criteria. Facilities gained points as they met the criteria contained in each of the four policy categories. A fifth category titled Responsible Citizenship subtracted points for activities that undermine LGBTQ healthcare equality.

The 80-page report includes an in-depth explanation of the HRC Foundation’s findings, recommends further improvements to LGBTQ healthcare, and reiterates the importance of providing inclusive care. An opening letter penned by HRC Foundation President Chad Griffin expresses the HEI’s importance in improving healthcare equality.

“The 2017 HEI reminds us again that though we have made tremendous gains over the past decade, there is still much more work left for us to do,” he said. “With some of our biggest battles still ahead of us, it is crucial that institutions continue to demonstrate that the march toward full equality is not slowing down. The 590 participants in this year’s HEI continue this march in partnership with the LGBTQ community. For the past decade, the HEI has been the roadmap to closing the gap in ensuring equal care to LGBTQ patients and their families, and we urge every healthcare facility to join us in this continuing effort to provide inclusive care to all.”

Griffin also applauds the progress that occurred in 2017.

“As this overview of the HEI 2017 indicates, diverse healthcare facilities across the U.S. are making tremendous strides toward LGBTQ patient-centered care. In unprecedented numbers, they are changing key policies, implementing best practices and training their staff. We heartily applaud all the facilities that participate in the HEI and make a commitment to LGBTQ patient-centered care.”

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