Hospitals across the Hartford HealthCare system were recently recognized for their equitable treatment and inclusion of LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and colleagues by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

The announcement capped a lengthy and detailed application process for each individual hospital. In the end, 496 hospitals nationwide earned Leader status with perfect scores of 100. Included from HHC were Backus Hospital, The Hospital of Central Connecticut, Windham Hospital, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, MidState Medical Center and Natchaug Hospital of the system’s Behavioral Health Network. St. Vincent’s Medical Center was among 251 hospitals nationwide to earn Top Performer status.

“Patients want to see themselves represented in these spaces to know they will get high quality, affirming, safe care,” said Dr. Derek Fenwick of the Institute of Living, who helped spearhead the application process. “The designation gives a sense of community.”

The designation, added Laura Saunders, PsyD, ABPP, co-medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Gender Health Center and the Institute of Living’s Right Track LGBTQ+ youth service, gives HHC colleagues assurance that policies reflect their unique concerns and needs.

“Human resources documents and insurance coverage are developed with LGBTQ+ colleagues in mind to support them to feel this is an affirming environment to work in,” Dr. Saunders said.

The application addressed everything from policies to the physical environment at each facility, such as artwork and signage Dr. Fenwick added.

The announcement of hospital designations came as part of the 15th anniversary of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey of healthcare facilities in this area. It highlights work done across HHC to address diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Hartford HealthCare is deeply committed to fostering a culture of equity and inclusion for all of our colleagues and the communities we serve,” said President and CEO Jeffrey A. Flaks. “This recognition puts the exclamation point on our mission to support our LGBTQ colleagues and the patients we wish to serve. This is one of the many different ways we are working to transform healthcare – both as a place to work and receive care. This is such an important part of healthcare delivery, as we work together to make it more accessible, affordable and equitable.

HEI evaluates and scores healthcare facilities on detailed criteria under four central pillars:

  • Foundational Policies and Training in LGBTQ+ Patient-Centered Care
  • LGBTQ+ Patient Services and Support
  • Employee Benefits and Policies
  • Patient and Community Engagement

The remarkable progress reflected in the 2022 HEI includes:

  • 93 percent of participants met the HEI’s training requirements, completing more than 200,000 hours of staff training in LGBTQ+ patient-centered care.
  • 82 percent of participating facilities earned either the Leader or Top Performer.
  • 99 percent of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their patient non-discrimination policy.
  • 99 percent of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their employment nondiscrimination policy.
  • 81 percent of HEI participants offer transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits to their employees, up from 75 percent in 2019, the first year this it was required in order to obtain Leader status.