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Sunday, September 26, 2021

UC Davis Medical Center named leader in LGBT healthcare equality for fifth consecutive year

VENOOS MOSHAYEDI / AGGIE
VENOOS MOSHAYEDI / AGGIE

Human Rights Campaign Foundation recognizes medical center for strides in LGBT healthcare

The UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento was recently recognized as a leader in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) healthcare equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF) for the fifth consecutive year.

The recognition, which is part of the foundation’s annual Healthcare Equality Index Report (HEI), is used to evaluate “health care facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBT patients, visitors and employees.”

“UC Davis Medical Center and the entire UC Davis Health System […] has long been committed to addressing and reducing health disparities,” said Charles Casey, senior public information officer for the UC Davis Health System, in an email interview. “Not only is the health system’s goal to provide high quality care to every patient, but where health disparities exist, UC Davis always strives to take extra steps to reduce health inequities.”

Ann Madden Rice, chief executive officer for the medical center, echoed Casey’s sentiment toward the prestigious honor.

“We’re honored to be nationally recognized for our commitment to a welcoming and inclusive environment for our patients, their families and our employees,” Rice said in a public statement.  “Along with patient safety and quality care, equity and inclusion are top priorities at UC Davis.”

The HEI evaluates more than 1,500 healthcare facilities nationwide and evaluates four core leadership criteria, including patient non-discrimination policies, visitation policies, employment non-discrimination policies and training in LGBT patient-centered care.

Some of the policies that UC Davis’ health system has implemented are LGBT cultural competency training for all its employees, an online physician’s list of UC Davis health providers who self identify as “LGBT welcoming” based on experience and comfort level, and equal visitation access for same-sex couples and parents.

“LGBT communities have unfortunately suffered severe health impacts, including alcoholism, depression, chronic disease and suicidal risk, because health professionals didn’t always understand or pay attention to LGBT patients or because LGBT individuals often avoided medical care out of fear of being humiliated or rejected,” Casey said in the email.

In its 2014 Index, the HRCF found that of 56 percent of LGB patients surveyed had experienced some type of discrimination in healthcare, and of transgender and gender non-conforming patients surveyed, it was 70 percent.

Ivon Garcia, chair of the Gender and Sexuality Commission and fourth-year technocultural studies major, discussed some of the issues that students and people in the LGBT community face.

“For students and people in the LGBTQIA community, the biggest thing that I note is just simply financial aid. [Their parents are] the ones [who] are holding the insurance and that means that they get to see everything. All the bills, every single test they do, every time they visit a psychiatrist, all that billing goes to the parents by law and because they pay for it, but this means that the student doesn’t have privacy,” Garcia said. “They can’t get mental health services, they can’t get the services they need related to their identities because of those barriers.”

The 2016 Healthcare Equality Index will be released in March of 2016. Employees at the UCDMC and the UC Davis Health System said that they are proud to be recognized for their role, but that there is still a lot of work to be done.

“There is still a critical need to better understand and prevent the health conditions that affect LGBT populations. Historically, stigma, prejudice and fear kept LGBT patients from feeling comfortable in the exam room of clinics and hospitals,” Casey said in the email. “Changing health-care provider attitudes and improving knowledge and understanding takes both determination and time. We’ve come a long way, but there is always more work to do.”

Written by: Ivan Valenzuela – campus@theaggie.org

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