PROMO recently announced just a couple of the successful results of its months-long negotiations with Missouri hospitals. CoxHealth, in the southwest part of the state, agreed to update its policies for both patients and employees, making them inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity. In all, 47 Missouri hospitals have included 105 new LGBT-welcoming policies in their internal guidelines, thanks to PROMO’s work.
Although PROMO’s short-term projects – like marriage equality, nondiscrimination and LGBT health – might change from year to year, its mission has always been about equality.
PROMO began its work in LGBT health-care issues fairly recently.
Andrew Shaughnessy, PROMO’s manager of public policy, said, “The Missouri Foundation for Health in 2012, as part of its Health Equity Series, published a report on the health of LGBT Missourians entitled Responding to LGBT Health Disparities. The report gave us a snapshot into the growing health disparities that LGBT Missourians face when accessing health care, which led to PROMO’s work in bridging these … gaps.”
He said that the LGBT Health Access project is a collaborative effort between PROMO Fund and SAGE Metro St. Louis.
“PROMO works to include LGBT-welcoming policy updates and provide technical assistance to health and social service facilities, while SAGE Metro St. Louis utilizes the LGBT Health Access to train health and social service professionals on LGBT health and disparities,” Shaughnessy said. “This effort has proven to be a success in providing tools health and social service organizations and professionals need to be LGBT-welcoming.”
To help bring hospitals up to speed on LGBT inclusion, staffers at PROMO tried to introduce the changes gradually. There was progress, but it was slow going.
So they tried a different approach, blanketing hospitals with letters pointing out that these policies were required. Shaughnessy followed up with phone calls, offering assistance in moving the hospitals to compliance. Changes came more quickly, and in 2014, Missouri’s rank on the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index went from 37th to 6th in the nation (local LGBT leader hospitals). Surely much of this progress is due to PROMO and its partners’ efforts.
A few years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services promulgated a list of actions for improving the lives of LGBT people. This was based on an Institute of Medicine report in 2011 recommending that sexual orientation and gender identity issues be tracked by health-care providers so that the data could be used to improve the health of LGBT persons.
Shaughnessy said that in PROMO’s hospitals outreach, the group often included “information about the Joint Commission standards for LGBT patient-centered care, which recommends as part of its accreditation that hospitals incorporate LGBT-welcoming policies.”
Members of the LGBT community can identify welcoming health-care providers by using sites such as healthcareguild.com and glma.org. Shaughnessy also stresses that LGBT patients’ knowledge of their rights is a critical component of quality care.
For those interested in learning more about PROMO’s LGBT health accomplishments and to access the following links, go to PROMO Online.org and click on <