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AU Health designated Georgia LGBTQ+ Equality Leader in 2022 Healthcare Equality Index

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Written by Lisa Kaylor

AU Health has received an evaluation of 100 and the designation of “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 15th anniversary edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey of healthcare facilities on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees. A record 906 healthcare facilities actively participated in the 2022 HEI survey and 496 of those earned an “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Equality Leader” designation.

AU Health is the only healthcare facility in Georgia to receive the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation for 2022, and has worked to increase its standing in the Healthcare Equality Index from a 95 (Top Performer) to 100 (Leader) over the past few years.

“While we are delighted to have earned an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation for 2022, we realize that this recognition is simply part of our patient- and family-centered standard of care,” said Chief Experience Officer Julie Moretz. “At AU Health, we believe that every individual should be treated with dignity and respect, which are core tenets of patient-and family-centered care. We are continuing our commitment to diversity and inclusion every day as we strive to meet the distinctive needs of all our patients and families.”

AU Health is home to Augusta’s first medical facility dedicated to serving the under- and uninsured LGBTQ community – the award-winning Equality Clinic. Additional diversity and inclusion resources include LGBTQ information officer Dr. Lara Stepleman, and an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion led by Chief Diversity Officer Brennan Francois.

“Every person deserves to have access to quality healthcare, be respected and heard by their doctor, and feel safe in the facility where they are receiving care. But LGBTQ+ people are often subject to discrimination in all spaces, including healthcare facilities, which leads to members of the community avoiding care and anticipating our voices will not be respected in an incredibly vulnerable environment,” said Tari Hanneman, Director of Health & Aging at The Human Rights Campaign. “The Healthcare Equality Index, at its core, strives to ensure LGBTQ+ people are protected and affirmed by their healthcare providers and feel safe seeking services. Our HEI active participants are truly pioneering the healthcare industry by implementing robust, comprehensive LGBTQ+ inclusive policies that hopefully, because of their work, will become standard practice.”

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

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

In the 2022 report, an impressive 496 facilities earned HRC’s “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each section and earning an overall score of 100. Another 251 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation with scores between 80 and 95 points and at least partial credit in each section. With 82% of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ+ care.

About the author

Lisa Kaylor

Lisa Kaylor is the Senior Communications and Media Coordinator for AU Health. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-5292 or lkaylor@augusta.edu.