CHICAGO — For the second consecutive year, all three Rush University System for Health hospitals have earned the LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader designation in the Healthcare Equality Index. This index is based on an annual survey of how U.S. health care facilities treat lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning patients and their families, as well as their own LGBTQ employees.
The HEI 2020 findings announced today are the 13th edition of the report by the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. LGBTQ organization. The report is intended to encourage equal care of LGBTQ patients. Rush University Medical Center has been designated an LGBTQ leader for 12 consecutive years.
“Receiving respectful, affirming care should not be a privilege for a select group, but unfortunately, it is not available to many in the LGBTQ community. Throughout Rush University Medical Center, we long have recognized that our LGBTQ patients and employees deserve to be treated with sensitivity and respect, and we are constantly working to ensure they are,” said Dr. Omar Lateef, CEO of the Medical Center.
'Welcoming for all people'
HEI participants were assessed and scored on four sets of criteria that represent how many policies and best practices they have implemented from each set, including nondiscrimination and staff training; LGBTQ patient services and support; LGBTQ employee benefits and policies; and LGBTQ patient and community engagement. Rush hospitals received the maximum score in each section, for a total score of 100 points, to earn the coveted status of 2020 LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader.
“Receiving the Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality designation is a confirmation that we’ve met our commitment to being an institution where LGBTQ+ patients, employees, faculty and students are welcome, respected and treated equally. We will continue working to make the environment here welcoming for all people by listening to their voices,” said Sherine Gabriel, MD, MSc, president of Rush University.
“The Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index Leader status is the gold standard for providing the best care possible to the LGBTQ+ community, and we are truly honored to see all three Rush hospitals named once again,” said Christopher Nolan, system manager of community health and benefit, and chair of the LGBTQ+ Leadership Council. “This truly takes a team effort across the entire system — and while this is a reflection of the inclusive culture of our organization, it is even more so a reflection of our amazing people and the incredible work they continue to do to pursue excellence and equity for all.”
Every year, the HRC recognizes the health care facilities that participate in the HEI for their dedication and commitment to LGBTQ inclusion. The designation is particularly compelling this year because of the challenges hospitals faced from COVID-19.
“Rush’s longstanding commitment to health equity drove us to respond to the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on Black and Latinx communities by accepting transfers of the sickest patients from safety net hospitals, expanding the scope of our interpreter services for patients who don’t speak English, mobilizing resources to protect residents of Chicago’s West Side and taking initiatives to protect people who are homeless,” Lateef said. “That same commitment to equity also has been evident in how we treat our LGBTQ patients and employees, and it’s reflected in our performance in the HEI each year.”
Rush’s commitment to a welcoming environment for LGBTQ patients, students, employees and visitors includes the LGBTQ Leadership Council of Rush’s Diversity Leadership Council, which provides guidance to Rush University Medical Center, Rush University, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Copley Medical Center about diversity issues and initiates events throughout the year to promote diversity.
Commitment includes transgender health benefits, Affirm
Due in part to the council’s efforts, at the beginning of 2016, Rush became the first health system in the state of Illinois to offer comprehensive transgender health benefits to employees and students alike. In early 2020, the council was also instrumental in the Medical Center's launch of Affirm: The Rush Center for Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Health. This comprehensive center provides safe, accessible, affirming and multidisciplinary, wraparound care from across the Rush University System for Health to those who identify as LGBTQ+. As part of that care, Affirm offers:
- Clinicians at Rush who recognize the unique health care concerns and needs of the LGBTQ+ community and are dedicated to providing the best care possible in a supportive and nurturing environment.
- Liaisons for LGBTQ+ health services, which include a licensed clinical social worker and two patient navigators who are available to help LGBTQ+ patients visitors, employees and students navigate resources within Rush and the broader community.
“This past year the Rush University System for Health doubled down on its commitment to LGBTQ+ health care equity with the launch of Affirm, and I cannot wait to see the amazing accomplishments the Affirm team along with Rush leadership will bring in the years to come as we aim to achieve health equity for the LGBTQ+ community,” Nolan said.
In addition, the Medical Center has implemented the following LGBTQ initiatives:
- Development of a comprehensive LGBTQ policy statement detailing Rush’s commitment to the LGBTQ community
- A dedicated LGBTQ section on the Medical Center’s website
- Incorporating entries for sexual orientation and gender identity into the electronic medical records system used at the Medical Center, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Copley Medical Center and providing training in the entry and use of this patient information
- Development of an institutional LGBTQ logo, which is displayed on more than 2,000 lapel pins distributed to individuals across the Rush system and a banner carried by Rush participants in Chicago and Aurora’s annual LGBT Pride Parades.
- Changing the signage on all public single-occupancy bathrooms on campus to indicate that they are "all-gender" — that is, their use is not designated specifically for either men or women. The signage is intended to be welcoming to people who are transgender or identify as being of non-binary gender (neither specifically/solely male or female).
About Rush University System for Health
Rush University System for Health (RUSH) brings together the brightest minds in medicine, research and academics. Driven by discovery, innovation and a deep responsibility for the health of our communities, RUSH is a national leader in outstanding patient care, education, research, community partnerships and empowering a new generation of health care providers.
RUSH comprises Rush University Medical Center, Rush University, Rush Copley Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital, as well as an extensive providers network and numerous outpatient care facilities. The Medical Center earned a top spot on U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Hospitals Honor Roll, holding the 17th spot among the nearly 3,000 U.S. hospitals evaluated, with 11 Rush programs ranked among the nation’s best, was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Vizient and named a Top Teaching Hospital by The Leapfrog Group.