UCSF Medical Center Earns Perfect Healthcare Equality Index Score for Fourth Consecutive Year

By Karin Rush-Monroe on June 07, 2010

LGBT Healthcare Equality Index (HEI)

UCSF Medical Center today became the only institution in the United States to receive a perfect score on the LGBT Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) for four consecutive years.

The HEI annually invites healthcare facilities nationwide to rate themselves on recognized criteria for equitable, inclusive care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) patients and their families. The criteria call on healthcare facilities to have LGBT nondiscrimination policies covering both patients and employees, to provide equal visitation for same-sex partners, and to offer LGBT competence training for staff.

Unique among U.S. healthcare facilities, UCSF Medical Center has met—in fact, exceeded—all of these criteria since the HEI was created in 2007 by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT civil rights organization, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. 

“We’re enormously proud of our unequalled record,” said Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center. “We want LGBT patients and their families to know that we are deeply committed to providing them with knowledgeable, sensitive care and completely equitable and respectful treatment.”

The 2010 HEI rates 178 healthcare facilities nationwide, 11of which join UCSF as “top performers,” meeting all criteria for LGBT equity and inclusion. This year’s HEI report also features a description of UCSF’s acclaimed LGBT health competence training program, overseen by UCSF LGBT Resource Center Director Shane Snowdon.

“As the HEI report notes, it’s critical to bring paper policies and practices alive by providing training on the needs of LGBT patients and their families,” Snowdon said. “Our training program is the most extensive in the country—we’re regularly consulted by other healthcare facilities who want to join us in offering truly equal and inclusive care.”

UCSF’s LGBT policies, practices, and training long predate the HEI. In 2004, for example, the Medical Center implemented a groundbreaking Inclusive Language Policy that was recently added to the prestigious federal Health Care Innovations Exchange of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  The only LGBT-related resource featured in the program, the policy calls for LGBT-inclusive language in written and verbal patient communications. Cindy Lima, an executive director of the Medical Center and lead developer of the policy, noted, “We want to make sure our staff know how to relate to LGBT patients—and their families—comfortably and knowledgeably.”

UCSF Medical Center has also long provided equal visitation rights for patients’ same-sex partners. These rights were the focus of an April memorandum from President Barack Obama to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services that will ultimately require all federally funded health healthcare facilities to allow patients to designate the visitors of their choice.

“We at UCSF were delighted to see our longtime practice ‘go national,’” said Snowdon. “But it’s tragic to think how many same-sex couples around the country have been prevented from seeing each other in their hour of need.”

The 2010 HEI report is dedicated to one such couple: as Lisa Pond’s life slipped away in a hospital emergency room, her partner and their children were kept from her. “Experiences like theirs,” Snowdon observed, “remind us how crucial it is that UCSF and other healthcare facilities regularly ask themselves how they’re treating LGBT patients and their families.”

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.