(Chicago) — Rush University Medical Center continues to lead the way in providing the highest-quality health care to all by being the first hospital in Illinois to offer comprehensive transgender health benefits to Rush employees and beneficiaries who are insured under the Rush health plan.
The benefits, which were effective on Jan. 1, include counseling, hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery and all other treatments related to gender transition. Rush University students have similar benefits.
For Rush, the new benefits are the latest step in an ongoing effort to ensure health care equality for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) community, and in its mission to provide an inclusive environment and culture for employees.
“This change to our benefits plan is true to our vision for diversity and inclusion at Rush,” said Dr. Larry Goodman, CEO of Rush University Medical Center and president of Rush University. “Our goal is to provide a welcoming environment for everyone, and that certainly includes all of our employees.”
Rush University Medical Center, Rush University and Rush Oak Park Hospital have a combined total of about 10,000 full-time employees. The decision to offer the benefits came after researching the coverage offered at other institutions that focus on diversity, and determining best practice around transgender health services.
Rush’s LGBTQ Health Committee teamed up with Rush's human resources, benefits and legal departments and other employees; Rush faculty; and Rush University students from across the Medical Center. "We set our sights on extending benefits to include transgender health services for employees," said Christopher Nolan, the committee's chair and a manager of community benefit and population health at Rush. A Rush Medical College student, Olivia Danforth, led the charge to cover Rush University students, as well.
“It’s an excellent example of the collaborative culture that exists at Rush. This was the result of a lot of people’s efforts coming together,” Nolan said.
With the addition of the benefits, Rush will apply this year to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as an employer of choice for the LGBTQ community. The medical center expects to have a 100 percent rating on the organization’s Corporate Equality Index when it submits later this year.
"Rush has consistently been a leader in providing inclusive policies and legal protections for the LGBTQ community, and this is a wonderful extension of that leadership,” said Anne Murphy, JD, senior vice president of legal affairs and general counsel, who serves as the executive sponsor of the LGBTQ Health Committee.
A part of Rush’s Diversity Leadership Council, the LGBTQ Health Committee was founded in 2014 with the goal of bringing best practices in LGBTQ health care to Rush.
“Rush’s mission is to provide the best care to the diverse communities we serve, and this includes its people. We’re a very progressive institution for diversity and inclusion, dating back to comprehensive affirmative action policies in the ‘70s, and this is an excellent demonstration of Rush’s continued commitment to the LGBTQ community,” Nolan said. “We talk about wanting to have the best people at Rush and the addition of these inclusive benefits demonstrates just that.”
For the last six consecutive years, Rush has earned the “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” designation from the Human Rights Campaign, which uses a Healthcare Equality Index to assess health care facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBT patients, visitors and employees. Since 2008, Rush has achieved a perfect score in all of the core criteria, and in 2014, Rush Oak Park Hospital joined the medical center on the list of HEI leaders.
The criteria include patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity; a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents; and LGBT health education for key staff members. The HEI survey is administered annually by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the country’s largest LGBT organization.