Bayhealth Medical Center: Providing Equality in Healthcare to Our Patients

Bayhealth Medical Center: Providing Equality in Healthcare to Our Patients
By Jennifer Dailey, Marketing Specialist

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Bayhealth staff recently held a LGBT conference on eldercase issues. The staff members (pictured here) who helped organize the conference were also part of a task force that helped Bayhealth earn a spot on the 2016 Healthcare Equality Index.

Bayhealth Medical Center strives to improve the health status of all members of our community. Located in central Delaware, Bayhealth leadership and staff steadily work to distinguish their facilities as a regional health system that consistently delivers an exceptional patient experience. The organization’s recent recognition as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation aligns perfectly with Bayhealth’s organization and mission.

HRC is the educational arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization. The findings were part of HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index 2016, a unique annual survey that encourages equal care for LGBT Americans by evaluating inclusive policies and practices related to LGBT patients, visitors and employees.

Bayhealth, a 2015 honoree of Planetree’s Bronze Recognition, earned top marks in meeting non-discrimination and training criteria that demonstrates its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing the quality healthcare and respect they deserve.

Bayhealth Director of Patient Advocacy, Service Excellence and Professional Recruitment Marianne Foard, MS, RN, NE-BC, said the health system is committed to providing quality treatment to all patients, including LGBT, because it’s the right thing to do. “This certification aligns perfectly with Bayhealth’s mission to improve the health status of all members of our community,” Foard said. “At Bayhealth, we strive to be kind and caring to all patients, families and visitors. Moreover, we treat everyone we encounter with kindness, dignity and respect.”

Bayhealth is one of a select group of 496 healthcare facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded this title met key criteria, including patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation of same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members.

The application process began for Bayhealth last year. A task force was formed and led by Foard and Bayhealth Benefits Manager Ruby Bower. To be recognized on the HEI this year, Bayhealth had to update policies to be more inclusive along with completing a questionnaire.

For Bower, the initiative hit close to home as she has friends in the LGTB community. She’s proud of the work done by the team. “You’re never more vulnerable than when you’re sick, hurting, or when someone you care about is vulnerable and hurting,” Bower said. “The last thing you want to worry about is being treated less than human simply because of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Bayhealth Planetree Coordinator Donna Henderson said the certification shows Bayhealth’s commitment to foster an inclusive culture for patients, visitors and staff. “Being included in this index shows the LGBT community we’re committed to their health,” Henderson said.

“Despite all the progress we’ve made, far too many LGBT people still lack inclusive and affirming healthcare. Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality are helping to change that, and in the process, making lives of LGBT patients and their families better each and every day,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “LGBT people have a right to be treated equally in all aspects of our lives, and HRC celebrates Bayhealth for its work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all patients.”

From here, Bower said Bayhealth still has work to do in order to be included on the 2017 HEI. Staff will continue to update policies and address opportunities for growth such as having gender neutral bathrooms and signage. She said the facility will start to have LGBT activities and celebrate LGBT holidays. For Bower, it’s more than just providing all patients equal care, it’s treating all Bayhealth team members with the same respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We need our current, and potential staff, to know we are all inclusive and that this is a great place to get care and a great place to work,” Bower said. “We consider ourselves to be an open and accepting organization not only for people who need to get their healthcare here, but also for staff working here.”

The Healthcare Equality Index offers healthcare facilities unique and powerful resources designed to help provide equal care to a long-overlooked group of patients, as well as assistance in complying with regulatory requirements and access to high-quality staff training.

For more information about the Healthcare Equality Index 2016, visit www.hrc.org/hei.  Visit Bayhealth.org for more information about Bayhealth.

To learn more about strategies employed by Bayhealth to ensure a supportive, inclusive environment for its LGBT patients and staff, register for the Planeree webinar, LGBTQ Aging and Healthcare: A Cultural Competency Perspective on Wednesday, May 18. Register here.