Report: Hospitals, VA medical centers improve LGBT patient-centered care

The number of U.S. hospital and healthcare facilities deemed leaders in healthcare equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients, visitors and employees has jumped 199 percent this year to 212, up from the 71 facilities in 2012, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign.

This year also saw a record participation level of 718 facilities, a 153 percent jump from the 407 participants in last year's survey. In fact, every state had at least one healthcare facility take the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI).

Much of the participation gains came from Veterans Health Administration--With "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repealed, almost 80 percent of VHA medical centers committed to LGBT patient-centered care by taking the HEI and 76 percent of those facilities earned equity-leader status, according to the report.

"We were pleased to have this opportunity to foster a more inclusive environment for our LGBT veterans and their families," VHA Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health Robert L. Jesse, M.D., Ph.D., said yesterday in an HRC announcement.

The VHA's participation highlights the government's increased efforts to reduce disparities in healthcare for LGBT patients. U.S. Department of Health & Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has pointed to Affordable Care Act provisions, including rules requiring Medicare and Medicaid-participating hospitals allow visitation rights for same-sex partners, and major national health surveys beginning to include data on LGBT groups.

The four core criteria for LGBT patient-centered care focus on patient non-discrimination policies, equal visitation policies, employment non-discrimination policies and staff training in LGBT patient-centered care.

The University of California, San Francisco Medical Center exceeded all of these criteria and is the only U.S. healthcare facility to earn a perfect score on the HEI for six years running, the hospital announced yesterday.

Physician practices also are among healthcare facilities aiming to improve care for LGBT patients. Last month, Howard Grossman, M.D., opened what he believes to be the first medical practice in New Jersey catering specifically to the needs of LGBT patients.

For more:
- here's the HRC announcement and report (.pdf)
- check out the UCSF announcement