University of Wisconsin Health care services’ nondiscriminatory policies have placed them among leaders inLGBTQ+ health care.
University Hospital and American Family Children’s Hospital were recognized as leaders in LGBT Health Care Quality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The hospitals were evaluated for instituting nondiscriminatory policies and practices for LGBTQ+ visitors and employees.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the largest national LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, according to a statement. The foundation’s work centers on creating a nation where LGBTQ+ community members are not only ensured basic equal rights, but can feel safe in their homes, at their places of work and in their communities.
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Ensuring these rights for patients and employees is important, because discrimination against LGBTQ+ community members is a national issue, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, UW Health director of community partnerships, said. Because of this, organizations like UW Health are taking steps to demonstrate their commitment to being an inclusive organization for LGBTQ+ communities, she said.
To create inclusive and welcoming policies for the LGBTQ+ community, UW Health has an internal LGBTQ+ task force. The task force is made up of a multidisciplinary representation of people in UW Health, including physicians, nurses and administrators, Bidar-Sielaff said.
Members of the task force work together to determine where improvements can be made to provide the best access and outcomes for the LBGTQ+ populations, Bidar-Sielaff said.
These improvements include recording gender identities through documentation of patient and employee’s gender identities in electronic heath records and having nondiscriminatory equal visitation policies, she said.
“We are proud of where we are as an organization so we are continuing to do a lot of work making sure that we continue being a leader in LGBTQ health care quality,” Bidar-Sielaff said.
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In addition to allowing people to choose their gender identities and sexual orientations, health care providers can demonstrate their support for LGBTQ+ issues by wearing ally buttons, flags or other representations to signify their support of the community, Andrea Lawson, associate director of counseling and consultation services at University Health Services, said.
At UHS, wearing these buttons and stickers helps people understand their providers know where members of the LBGTQ+ community are coming from and that they are capable of addressing some of the issues that are being brought to the table, Lawson said.
UHS policies try to enhance diversity in the workforce and provide culturally appropriate services to the diverse student community, Lawson said. UHS holds a variety of forums to determine how their services can be more inclusive to all students, she said. Using identifying pronouns and wearing representations are two ways in which health care providers at UHS do this, she said.
But Lawson said it’s also important to understand that gender identity isn’t the only reason members of the LGBTQ+ community may come to UHS.
“We are also trying to be careful as we work with students to support their issues as they are coming in, rather than the issues we might assume based on certain identities,” Lawson said.