UNIVERSITY VILLAGE — Rush University Medical Center was recently named a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” in a report which surveys healthcare centers nationwide.
This is the fifth consecutive year Rush has been awarded the title, which is based on an annual survey of U.S. healthcare facilities’ treatment of LGBT patients, families and employees.
The survey — the Healthcare Equality Index — was started by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in 2007 and acts as a tool for patients seeking LGBT-friendly care.
Rush is one of 464 healthcare facilities nationwide to meet the survey’s “Core Four” criteria, which includes non-discrimination policies for LGBT patients and employees, staff training in LGBT patient care and same-sex couple visitation rights.
Also named as local leaders were Advocate Illinois Masonic, Northwestern Memorial, the Cook County medical system, and the Veterans Administration's Jesse Brown Medical Center.
“It makes a big difference to know that your local healthcare facility is fully committed to providing you with the same care it gives your neighbors and co-workers,” said Shane Snowdon, the health and aging director for Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
In the report, the authors said an increasing number of hospitals are participating in the index, a sign they said reflects a greater awareness of the needs of LGBT patients and their families.
However, the report cited examples of the challenges some can still face in hospitals: transgender people not being allowed to use the restroom; a gay male patient who said staff “turned very cool” when he told them his husband would be visiting; and a lesbian who, after her partner gave birth, saw a hospital employee “roll his eyes” when she described herself as “the other mom.”
Another issue for LGBT at hospitals is being able to designate a same-sex partner to make medical decisions. The index found that 81 percent of the hospitals participating in the survey "explicitly inform patients of their right to designate a same-sex partner as medical decision maker."
A problem is, according to the authors, only 19 percent of the hospitals include in their employee training those LGBT-specific, decision-making rights.
For LGBT patients, "whatever worry they may feel about their health status is all too often intensified by fear that they will receive unequal treatment because of their LGBT status," the authors say.