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

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 five consecutive years.

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

Unique among U.S. health care 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.

“Equal care is the essence of health care. It is our responsibility, our calling as health care providers, to deliver safe, quality care to everyone in need,” said Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center and the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “Academic medical centers also play an important role in advancing care equality by equipping future health care providers with the training necessary to offer competent, sensitive care to LGBT patients and their families.”

In October 2010, the UCSF Center for LGBT Health and Equity convened the nation’s first Summit on LGBT Issues in Medical Education. Attended by over half the nation’s medical schools, the event offered UCSF’s educational resources to institutions throughout the country.

The 2011 HEI reports on the voluntary participation of a record 87 survey respondents, representing 375 facilities in the United States. This year, 27 respondents join UCSF as “top performers,” meeting all criteria for LGBT equity and inclusion.

UCSF’s LGBT-inclusive policies, practices, and training long predate the HEI. In 2004, for example, UCSF Medical Center implemented a groundbreaking Inclusive Language Policy that is featured in the prestigious Health Care Innovations Exchange of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

Nationally, there has been notable progress this year toward LGBT equality in health care.

In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a requirement that all federally funded hospitals allow patients to designate the visitors of their choice. UCSF Medical Center has long provided equal visitation rights for patients’ same-sex partners.

In March, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a groundbreaking report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Understanding. The report recommends steps to ensure that clinical researchers identify and address the needs of LGBT populations. In response, HHS issued a broad list of recommendations to further advance efforts to improve LGBT health.

In July, the Joint Commission — the country’s largest health care accreditation organization — will begin surveying hospitals to ensure that they offer equal visitation and prohibit patient and employee discrimination based on LGBT status. The Joint Commission also plans to publish a “toolkit” this fall to assist hospitals in offering equitable, inclusive care. 

Shane Snowdon, director of UCSF’s Center for LGBT Health and Equity, has worked with the UCSF Medical Center since 1999 to ensure that UCSF provides the best possible care to LGBT patients and their families.

“It has been very moving to see other institutions follow UCSF’s lead,” she said. “There is always more to do, but it is clear that LGBT equity and inclusion are now receiving serious attention in health care.”

The full HEI report, including the video above featuring Laret and UCSF Medical Center, is available at http://www.hrc.org/hei2011/.

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.