Dr. Wayne Frederick, provost and chief academic officer for Howard University Hospital, accepted the award for being one of the best hospitals in the U.S. for providing quality health care to the LGBT community. (Photo: Courtesy medicine.howard.edu)
Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., recently was named one of the best hospitals in the country for providing quality health care to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and their families. This award came from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national LGBT organization, and was given to Howard along with 233 other facilities throughout the U.S. that completed the HRC's Health Care Equality Index survey. Out of 5,700 health care facilities, only 407 hospitals completed the survey.
According to a Howard University press statement, each hospital was judged on the following criteria:
—The hospital’s patient non-discrimination policy is publicly available and includes the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
—The hospital’s visitation policy explicitly grants same sex couples, partners, spouses and significant others the same access as different-sex couples and grants their minor children the same access as children of different-sex couples.
—The hospital’s employment non-discrimination policy includes the term ”sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
—The hospital provides training for key staff members in LGBT patient-centered care.
When accepting this honor, Dr. Wayne Frederick, provost and chief academic officer for Howard University, said, "In the words of the human rights activist Sojourner Truth, who worked at this hospital as a nurse and housekeeper in 1865 when we were Freedmen’s Hospital, ‘Those are the same stars, and that is the same moon that looks down upon your brothers and sisters.’”
He added, “We will continue to strive with you to improve the cultural competence of all the people who work at this institution so that we will realize and attain our potential to provide equitable, quality health care for all patients.”
This is important, especially given the large African-American LGBT community in the D.C.-Maryland area. This is also a sign of progress for the relationship between HBCUs and the LGBT community.
The Huffington Post wrote:
Although only three historically black medical schools and teaching hospitals exist today, they stand as beacons of continued support and achievement in black communities. Often, these institutions serve the most underserved and disadvantaged individuals. Unfortunately, such service has not always been extended to include sexual minorities.
The LGBT community, widely diverse and complex, is associated with many health issues including (but not limited to) high rates of depression and suicide in youth/adolescents, HIV (disproportionately high among African Americans) and AIDS, and substance abuse, as well as the stigma and discrimination that are associated with the aforementioned issues. Howard University's efforts in supporting LGBT health are evidence that times are changing for the better at HBCUs.
While this news is encouraging, more work needs to be done in fostering safe and welcoming environments for the LGBT community. A 2010 report conducted by Lambda Legal found that 73 percent of transgender respondents and 29 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents said “they believed they would be treated differently by medical personnel because of their LGBT status.”
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