The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has recognized four acute-care hospitals in the Henry Ford Health System as leaders in healthcare equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, as well as Henry Ford’s community hospitals in Macomb, West Bloomfield and Wyandotte, were named leaders for their “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,” according to the HRC Foundation.
Henry Ford’s LGBT-supportive policies are numerous and include:
- Informing patients of the right to designate a same sex spouse or partner as a medical decision-maker
- Organizing employee resource group, PRIDE, for LGBT employees and families
- Offering gender-neutral bathrooms
- Extending some employee benefits to same sex spouses and partners.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization. Each year it conducts a unique annual survey that is the basis for the Healthcare Equality Index. It evaluates and categorizes policies and practices that support equal and respectful treatment of LGBT patients, employees and visitors – and LGBT Americans in general.
The 2016 index recognized 496 health care facilities as LGBT leaders. Henry Ford hospitals have made the leaders’ index each year since 2013. To be deemed LGBT-friendly, facilities must meet key criteria, including patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents and LGBT health education for key staff members.
Policies and practices at Henry Ford hospitals speak to those criteria and go beyond, including:
- Employee training addresses the needs of LGBT patients, families and employees
- Health system representatives maintain relationships with LGBT organizations
- Hospital job postings are shared specifically with LGBT organizations
- Transgender medicine is a major focus of research and practice “We strive to treat every individual who interacts with Henry Ford Health System with respect, compassion and an understanding that the quality of care should never vary based on personal characteristics such as ethnicity, race, gender, geographic location, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation,” says Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Senior Vice President of Community Health & Equity and Chief Wellness Officer for Henry Ford Health System.
“Being recognized as a leader in healthcare equality for the LGBT community goes to the core of the diversity principles that guide us, principles that aren’t just on paper in the form of policies but that are very much of a part what we do every day, whether it’s with patients and families in the hospital or with employees through human resources,” Wisdom says.
While a select group of health care facilities are rising to the top as models for providing medical care to the LGBT community, situations of unequal care and treatment are yet to be addressed, says Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign.
“Despite all the progress we’ve made, far too many LGBT people still lack inclusive and affirming healthcare. Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality are helping to change that, and, in the process, making the lives of LGBT patients and their families better each and every day,” Griffin says. “LGBT people have a right to be treated equally in all aspects of our lives, and HRC celebrates those at Henry Ford for their work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all patients.”
Working to ensure equal care and respect is standard operating procedure at Henry Ford, says Kathy Oswald, Vice President and Chief Human Resources officer for Henry Ford. “We realize that until equality is the way of the world, we must do everything we can to bring it to the workplace,” Oswald says. “Training our employees to recognize the needs of the LGBT community and supporting LGBT employees are just some of the many ways we work to understand and honor diversity.”
Find full Healthcare Equality Index here.
Brenda D. Craig, MFA
Kim North Shine