Access to the finest health care means very little if the providers of the health care do not understand or appreciate who you are as a person, said Lisa Middleton, the woman who made California history in November when she was elected to the Palm Springs City Council.

Lisa Middleton

Lisa Middleton

“Quality healthcare is a fundamental need of every person,” Middleton told Uken Report.  “In our country everyone should have full access to high quality healthcare.   I and nearly every LGBTQ person I know has at one time or another questioned whether I can or should reveal my gender or sexual identity to my doctor.  Eisenhower Medical Center has gone the extra mile to make certain LGBTQ patients are welcome and in the care of cultural competent and fully supportive healthcare professionals.”

Middleton, the first transgender person elected to a nonjudicial office in California, according to the group Equality California, was among leaders in the LGBTQ community to laud the latest accomplishment Eisenhower Health has achieved.

For the sixth consecutive year, Eisenhower Health has been named as an “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). The designation was awarded in the 11th edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), released Tuesday.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the education arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

LGBTQ Leaders Laud Eisenhower Health's Care

John Aguilar

Cathedral City City Councilman John Aguilar was among the leaders publicly congratulating Eisenhower Health for its achievement.

Fred Jandt

“In this day and age when several of our communities, especially the Latino and LGBTQ communities, are under attack by the Administration and its supporters, Eisenhower is a beacon of hope in the face of adversity,” Aguilar told Uken Report.  “They should be an example that all other health care providers, both public and private, should follow.”

Fred Jandt, former dean of Cal State San Bernardino’s Palm Desert Campus and currently a member of the College of the Desert Board of Trustees, also praised the not-for-profit hospital for its achievement.

“There is no dispute that LGBTQ individuals have experienced healthcare discrimination,” Jandt told Uken Report. “We are so fortunate to have the dedicated doctors, nurses, and administrators at EMC here in the Coachella Valley. All are highly competent, nationally recognized, and also accepting and supportive of our diversities. You know you will receive excellent care in a caring community at EMC.”

In its 11th year, the HEI is 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 2018 evaluates more than 1,600 healthcare facilities nationwide.

.A record 626 healthcare facilities actively participated in the HEI 2018 survey, with HRC Foundation proactively researching key policies at more than 900 additional non-participating hospitals. Of those included in the HEI, 418 earned an “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation.

“To earn the Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality recognition six years in a row is a testament to Eisenhower’s longstanding commitment of serving each and every one of our patients with dignity and respect,” Martin Massiello, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Eisenhower Health, said in a prepared statement. “This is truly an honor.”

“With some of our biggest battles still ahead of us, it is crucial that institutions continue to demonstrate that the march toward full equality is not slowing down,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a prepared statement. “The 626 participants in this year’s HEI continue this march in partnership with the LGBTQ community and we commend them for their leadership. For over a decade, the HEI has been the roadmap to closing the gap in ensuring equal care to LGBTQ patients and their families, and we urge every healthcare facility to join us in this continuing effort to provide inclusive care to all.”

The 11th edition of the HEI marks the second year that participants are given a numerical score based on their LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. HEI participants are given scores in four criteria: foundational elements of LGBTQ patient-centered care, LGBTQ Patient Services and Support, Employee Benefits and Policies and LGBTQ Patient and Community Engagement. Participants that receive the maximum score in each section earn the coveted status of “2018 LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader.”

In the 2018 report, 418 facilities earned HRC’s “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation with a score of 100. Another 95 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation for scoring from 80 to 95 points. With 82 percent of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, healthcare facilities are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.

Of the hospitals that did not participate in the HEI but were scored based on research, only 63 percent have patient non-discrimination policies that include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and only 53 percent were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. The equal visitation policy, at 93 percent, is the only one that comes close to matching the rate of the participating facilities.