The Healthcare Equality Index released its annual 2014 survey results Wednesday, naming the University of Michigan Health System a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality.

Of the 507 respondents to the nationwide HEI survey, 426 met the four set criteria in order to receive recognition as a 2014 Leader in LGBT Heathcare Equality, 10 of which were facilities in Michigan. HEI is part of the Human Rights Campaign, an organization aimed at increasing public support for LGBT causes, among other goals.

This is the first year UMHS met the four criteria necessary to earn this recognition. The four components of the survey consider patient non-discrimination policies, visitation policies, employment non-discrimination policies and training in LGBT patient-centered care.

Carmen Green, UMHS associate vice president and associate dean for Health Equity and Inclusion, said the recent improvement at UMHS and its qualification for this recognition is an important step in non-discriminatory polices and healthcare at UHS.

“While there is still work to be done to improve how we provide care, do research, train new professionals and foster careers, we are proud of this important recognition and remain steadfast in our commitment to eliminating health care disparities in our time and promoting health equity now,” Green wrote in a press release.

507 facilities voluntarily responded to the HEI survey, but for the first time, HEI also surveyed facilities that did not willingly offer responses to their survey.

The survey brings to light gaps in hospital policy language that refer only to sexual orientation without addressing gender identities. To achieve recognition for the first component of the survey, facilities must include the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their policy or in the patients’ bill of rights, which must also be accessible to patients in at least two different forms.

Issues within non-discrimination policy, according to the survey, most often affect transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. While 97 percent of HEI survey respondents have a fully inclusive LGBT patient non-discrimination policy, of those facilities that chose not to respond, only 51 percent had acceptable non-discrimination policies.

98 percent of survey respondents had equal visitation policies, while 84 percent of non-respondents had similar equal visitation policies allowing same-sex couples and same-sex parents the right to visit loved ones in healthcare settings, regardless of their state’s legal recognition of same-sex marriage. The survey also demonstrates 26 percent of facilities that have a sexual orientation workplace protection policy do not include gender identity in those protections.

96 percent of responding facilities have a fully inclusive LGBT employment non-discrimination policy, while only 50 percent hold the same policies in facilities that did not volunteer in the study.

More than 86 percent of hospitals and facilities that responded to the HEI survey provided LGBT patient-centered training to staff members.

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