By Michele Zipkin
PHILADELPHIA — Seven Philadelphia healthcare facilities scored a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), and two scored 95 out of 100.
In total, 17 Philadelphia health organizations and hospitals were ranked in the index.
The HEI assesses healthcare entities based on four main criteria, including foundational policies and training in LGBTQ+ patient care; LGBTQ patient services and support; employee benefits and policies; and patient and community engagement. In 2022, 906 healthcare facilities took part in the HEI survey, 496 of which received a score of 100.
The Philadelphia-area healthcare orgs and hospitals that received scores of 100 in the index, designating them “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leaders,” include Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Penn Student Health Service, Pennsylvania Hospital and Temple University Hospital. Mazzoni Center and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital scored 95 points. Remaining Philadelphia healthcare orgs that ranked in the HEI are vybe urgent care (75), Friends Hospital (70), Magee Rehabilitation Hospital (70), Jefferson Frankford Hospital (65), Jefferson Methodist Hospital (65), Jefferson Torresdale Hospital (65), Philadelphia VA Medical Center (65) and Penn Rehab & The Specialty Hospital at Rittenhouse (35).
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Additional Philadelphia facilities were researched by the index, but did not participate. Other regional facilities who participated in the index include Wilmington Hospital (100), Bryn Mawr Hospital (95), Cooper University Hospital (90), and Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital (60).
“Equality is at the heart of our mission at Temple Health, so we take great pride in earning the ‘LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader’ designation for the fourth consecutive year,” Temple University Hospital President and CEO Abhinav Rastogi said in a press release. “Everyone deserves access to excellent healthcare in a safe, comfortable and unbiased setting and we’re committed to providing a welcoming, compassionate, empathetic and respectful environment for LGBTQ+ patients, employees and visitors.”
The team at the helm of the Temple Health LGBTQ Alliance Task Force submitted Temple’s HEI survey. The mission of the Task Force is to ameliorate policies, education, equity and clinical services for patients, students, staff, faculty and visitors within Temple’s health system.
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Five of Penn Medicine’s six acute care hospitals received a score of 100 in the HEI. The sixth hospital, Princeton Health, landed a score of 90 as well as a “Top Performer” designation. Penn Medicine’s Program for LGBT Health, established in 2013, fosters an LGBTQ-inclusive atmosphere, provides professional development for LGBTQ employees, has boosted LGBTQ participation in Penn research initiatives, and has enhanced care for LGBTQ patients and families.
“Penn Medicine is dedicated to ensuring that all patients have access to respectful, compassionate, and equitable health care at all times — and the HRC designation is an important part of efforts to ensure health equity for all,” Penn Medicine said in a statement.
In order to earn the designation of “Equality Leader,” participating healthcare organizations had to show that they offer their employees trans-inclusive healthcare benefits in addition to fulfilling the other criteria. To earn the “Top Performer” classification this year, healthcare facilities had to get full credit in the first category of foundational policies of LGBTQ patient care and at minimum partial credit in the subsequent categories, earning an overall score of 80-95.
The HRC Foundation created the HEI in 2007 “to meet a deep and urgent need on the part of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans: the need for equitable, knowledgeable, sensitive and welcoming healthcare, free from discrimination.”
LGBTQ people are technically protected from discrimination in U.S. healthcare systems, but that hasn’t always been the case and doesn’t prevent healthcare providers from mistreating LGBTQ patients. Queer and trans people continue to face discrimination in healthcare spaces that can traumatize them and discourage them from seeking care.
According to the 2018 survey Discrimination Prevents LGBTQ People from Accessing Health Care by the Center for American Progress, of LGBQ respondents who went to a doctor the year prior to the survey, 8% said that a doctor or healthcare provider declined to see them because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Of the same group, 6% said that a doctor or healthcare provider declined to give them care related to their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
For trans respondents who went to a doctor the year prior to the survey, 29% said that a doctor or healthcare provider declined to see them due to their actual or perceived gender identity; 12% said that a doctor or healthcare provider refused to provide healthcare having to do with gender transition and 29% said that they experienced unwanted physical touch from their doctor or healthcare provider.
While many healthcare providers still have a lot of work to do when it comes to administering culturally competent, sensitive care free of discrimination and misconduct, the HEI indicates that some progress is being made.
“Diverse healthcare facilities across the U.S. are making tremendous strides toward LGBTQ+ patient-centered care,” the HEI executive summary reads in part. “In unprecedented numbers, they are changing key policies, implementing best practices and training their staff.”
Michele Zipkin is a reporter for the Philadelphia Gay News, where this story first appeared.