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Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

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Bay Pines Recognized Nationally as a “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality”

March 29, 2017

BAY PINES, FL - Today, the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) announced their “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization. The designation was reported in the 10th edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), reflecting on a decade of progress in LGBTQ healthcare. A record 590 healthcare facilities actively participated in the HEI 2017 survey. Of those facilities, about 45 were VA medical centers. In addition to active survey participants, the HRC Foundation proactively researched key policies at more than 900 non-participating hospitals. Of all those included in the HEI, 302 earned a “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” designation.

“We are extremely proud of being recognized as a national leader in healthcare equality by the HRC for the fifth year in a row,” said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VAHCS. “The designation received from the HRC demonstrates our commitment to equitable, inclusive care for all Veterans and aligns with our strategic goal of becoming a 5-star organization in healthcare quality and customer service,” she said.

Other VA facilities recognized by HRC in Florida include the Miami VA Healthcare System, Orlando VA Medical Center, and James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital located in Tampa.

The 10th edition of the HEI implements new criteria that raise the bar on what it takes to earn HRC’s “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” designation. For the first time ever, HEI participants are given scores in four criteria that represent how many policies and best practices from each section they have implemented: 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 for a total score of 100 points earn the coveted status of “2017 Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality.”

In the 2017 report, an impressive 302 facilities -- 51 percent of those actively participating in the survey -- met the more challenging criteria to earn this designation. Another 145 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation for scoring from 80 to 95 points. With 76 percent of actively-participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, it is clear that healthcare facilities are going beyond the basics in adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.

Of the hospitals who did not participate in the HEI but were scored based on research, only 61 percent have policies that include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and only 52 percent were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. The equal visitation policy, at 95 percent, is the only one that comes close to matching the rate of the participating facilities.

“The 2017 HEI reminds us again that though we have made tremendous gains over the past decade, there is still much more work left for us to do. 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,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The 590 participants in this year’s HEI continue this march in partnership with the LGBTQ community. For the past 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.”

For more information about the Healthcare Equality Index 2016, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/hei

About the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

The Bay Pines VAHCS is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems, employing more than 4,000 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing the very best care to Veterans residing in southwest Florida. The organization is the fifth busiest VA health care system in the country in terms of patients served and is accredited by The Joint Commission, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and several other nationally recognized accrediting organizations. The Bay Pines VAHCS operates nine facilities to include the main medical center located in Bay Pines and outpatient clinics located in Bradenton, Cape Coral, Naples, Palm Harbor, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Sebring. To learn more, please visit www.baypines.va.gov, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vabaypines, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vabaypines.