CHOP rises to top, Jefferson falls short in 2019 LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Index

CHOP rises to top, Jefferson falls short in 2019 LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Index

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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation recognized Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Temple University Hospital, Penn Medicine, Mazzoni Center, Einstein Medical Center-Philadelphia and other Philadelphia-area health care facilities as "LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leaders" and "Top Performers."

Philadelphia was among the highest-ranked cities in the country for LGBTQ-friendly medical care in HRC’s 2019 Healthcare Equality Index released August 16. Now in its 12th year, HRC calls its Healthcare Equality Index "the national LGBTQ benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees."

The HEI 2019 evaluated more than 1,600 healthcare facilities nationwide. Pennsylvania had the fourth-highest number of ranked healthcare facilities in the country, with all but one — Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Center City and their affiliate, Abington Hospital, both part of the Jefferson Health system — ranking between 95 and 100 percent. Jefferson’s and Abington’s scores were the outliers in the state, ranking below hospitals in less LGBTQ-friendly areas, like Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, and Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital in Coal Township. Lehigh Valley had a 95 percent score and Geisinger-Shamokin, nestled in coal country 100 miles outside Philadelphia, had a perfect score.

In comparison, both Jefferson and Abington had a score of 75, the only Pennsylvania facilities ranked by HRC to have a score below 80. Jefferson Health’s other Philadelphia hospital, Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia, was not ranked in the study.

While Jefferson could not provide a statement to PGN by press time, Larry Benjamin, Director of Communications at Mazzoni Center, addressed concerns over Jefferson’s low ranking. Mazzoni Center received a near-perfect score of 95. "We have a long-term relationship with Jefferson Health," Benjamin said. "From our conversations, it is clear to us they are committed to not just raising their HRC score, but also to strengthening their relationship with the community and delivering services that are LGBTQ competent and affirming."

Benjamin said, "As part of their commitment, Jefferson came on board as the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference. In addition, our education department recently delivered LGBTQ competency training for their staff at Methodist Hospital as part of a larger plan which would offer this training across their entire hospital system."

The purpose of HRC’s evaluation is to provide LGBTQ patients, who may face discrimination and other challenges obtaining quality care, with the best data on where to find supportive and LGBTQ-friendly physicians and other medical personnel. The Healthcare Equality Index survey participants were assessed on four criteria: nondiscrimination and staff training, patient services and support, employee benefits and policies, and patient and community engagement. Participants that received the maximum score in each category and a total score of 100 points earned the title of "Healthcare Equality Leader," and facilities that score 80-95 points were named "Top Performers."

HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement, "As the Trump-Pence administration continues to attack the most fundamental rights of LGBTQ people, including rolling back non-discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act and promoting a license to discriminate in health care, it is more important than ever that health care institutions stand with the LGBTQ community."

CHOP, long touted as a national leader in healthcare for children and adolescents and ranked best among all children’s hospitals in the country, is featured on the cover of the Healthcare Equality Index 2019. 

HRC said, "Since it began, the HEI has successfully encouraged hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the nation to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive patient, visitation and employment policies."

"Over time and due to a decade of advancement in LGBTQ inclusion in daily life, healthcare facilities have worked harder than ever to increase their work to provide equitable care for the LGBTQ community — and now the HEI survey reflects and promotes these efforts through its scoring criteria," HRC added.

Both Penn Medicine, which includes six area hospitals, and Temple University Hospital, touted their placement with press releases about their HEI rankings. Penn Medicine and Temple both received perfect scores.

"This honor is due to the efforts of the more than 180 members of the Temple Health LGBTQ Alliance Task Force, whose mission is to provide and advocate for LGBTQ-centered care, education and research across Temple University Health System, the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and the community we serve," said Michael Young, president and CEO of Temple University Hospital in the hospital’s announcement. "We are committed to providing an inclusive, safe and supportive care environment for our LGBTQ patients, staff, visitors, faculty and students."

Penn Medicine includes the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), Pennsylvania Hospital, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Chester County Hospital. In their press release, Penn Medicine noted, "The HRC Foundation has consistently recognized Penn Medicine hospitals as leaders in LGBTQ patient-centered care, but this year marks two ‘firsts’ for the health system. Princeton Health participated in the foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index survey for the first time and scored a total of 100/100 points, earning the HRC’s coveted ‘LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader’ designation. Penn Medicine’s Lancaster General Health also earned the ‘Equality Leader’ designation."

"Maintaining an inclusive, welcoming, and compassionate environment for all of our patients, visitors, and staff is critical to any health system, and Penn Medicine is committed to prioritizing this in our workplaces, classrooms, and clinical settings," said Patrick J. Brennan, MD, Penn Medicine’s chief medical officer. "Having all of our hospitals on this list is a tremendous accolade for the health system."

HRC noted that 81 percent of participating health care facilities scored 80 points or more, suggesting that many U.S. hospitals and medical centers are fully engaged in providing LGBTQ-centered care.

Also among the top-ranked facilities in the Philadelphia area were Willowcrest Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Einstein Healthcare Network and Penn Student Health Service at the University of Pennsylvania. Both scored 100.

HRC’s David said, "The health care facilities that participate in HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index are making clear that they stand on the side of fairness and are committed to providing inclusive care to their LGBTQ patients."

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