Health care system one of 496 nationwide to receive coveted designation for fourth consecutive year
For the fourth consecutive year, Valleywise Health has been named an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization.
Valleywise Health was the first hospital in Maricopa County to participate in HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) and is one of only three hospitals in Arizona to receive a perfect score of 100. HEI has given the health system a perfect score the last three-years because of their commitment to providing discrimination protections and high-quality care to LGBTQ+ patients, visitors, and employees.
The HEI evaluates and scores healthcare facilities on detailed criteria falling under four central pillars:
- Foundational Policies and Training in LGBTQ+ Patient‐Centered Care;
- LGBTQ+ Patient Services and Support;
- Employee Benefits and Policies; and,
- Patient and Community Engagement.
“We’re proud to be recognized for culturally competent care and for our commitment to provide equitable access to exceptional care, without exception, every patient, every time,” says Steve Purves, President and CEO of Valleywise Health. “As a major center of teaching, we have a special role in advancing care equity by training future health care providers and staff to offer competent, sensitive care to LGBTQ+ patients and their families while also ensuring our employees feel that same sense of inclusion.”
“Every person deserves to have access to quality healthcare, be respected and heard by their doctor, and feel safe in the facility where they are receiving care. But LGBTQ+ people are often subject to discrimination in all spaces, including healthcare facilities, which leads to members of the community avoiding care and anticipating our voices will not be respected in an incredibly vulnerable environment,” said Tari Hanneman, Director of Health & Aging at The Human Rights Campaign. “The Healthcare Equality Index, at its core, strives to ensure LGBTQ+ people are protected and affirmed by their healthcare providers and feel safe seeking services. Our HEI active participants are truly pioneering the healthcare industry by implementing robust, comprehensive LGBTQ+ inclusive policies that hopefully, because of their work, will become standard practice.”
Created in April 2021, the Valleywise Health LGBTQ+ Rainbow Warriors’ Employee Resource Group spearheaded the HEI recertification efforts. Beyond that process, the ERG has activated internally to expand awareness and education, take part in community events, and orchestrate inclusive social gatherings for LGBTQ+ and allied staff. The HEI accreditation process was accomplished through dedicated workgroups focused on processes, protocols, and policies to increase the welcoming environment for all patients at Valleywise Health.
Key initiatives launched in the last year include Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Inclusion (SOGII) in medical records and processes, championing the use of pronouns throughout Valleywise Health, and making strategic changes in EPIC and with vendors to honor the identities of patients in a respectful, affirming manner. Other activities include fundraising for the AIDS Walk AZ & 5k Run, Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June, and honoring the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
“Receiving this recognition not only further validates the importance of creating an inclusive environment within the walls of Valleywise Health, but in all we do externally in the community,” says Manuel Soto-Griego, Health Information Management Director at Valleywise Health.
Valleywise Health has a long and respected reputation for providing care to LGBTQ+ patients through Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell, a specialty clinic providing primary care services for HIV positive patients, HIV prevention through PrEP and transgender hormonal therapy. This care has now expanded to its location in Mesa, but overall treat about 4,000 patients per year, with roughly 65% self-identifying as LGBTQ.
For more information on Valleywise Health, please visit www.valleywisehealth.org.