Bakersfield, CA - June 1st marks the beginning of Pride Month 2022 and to underscore our commitment to inclusivity, each of our three Bakersfield hospitals has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader or Top Performer in the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). The HEI is the nation's leading measure of equitable and inclusive care for LGBTQ+ patients, visitors, and employees. Inclusion is also one of Dignity Health's five core values. Every day—and especially during Pride Month—we celebrate diversity in and around our community.
“We are honored to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign for our dedicated work with the LGBTQ+ community,” states Ken Keller, President and CEO of Memorial Hospital. “We are deeply committed to providing everyone with a welcoming and safe environment to receive care.”
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.
“LGBTQ+ patients have historically faced significant and long-standing challenges in accessing the care they need, and Dignity Health Bakersfield is committed to providing welcoming, compassionate care for LGBTQ+ patients and their families,” adds Dr. Hemmal Kothary, Chief Medical Officer and Interim President of Mercy Hospitals Bakersfield.
Mercy and Memorial Hospitals are two of dozens of Dignity Health care sites recognized in the 2022 HEI. As part of the HEI survey processes, Dignity Health worked with a nationally recognized LGBTQ+ health expert to undertake a comprehensive review of LGBTQ+ care policies and practices within the organization. We updated dozens of policies to support LGBTQ+ health care outcomes, expanded training for staff and clinicians, updated patient forms and IT processes to better capture preferred pronouns and solicit feedback from LGBTQ+ patients, created the role of an LGBTQ+ patient advocate, and clarified wording in employee benefits to be explicitly inclusive of LGBTQ+ employees – to name just a few examples.
“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.”
For more information about Dignity Health Bakersfield’s commitment to LGBTQ+ care, visit www.dignityhealth.org/lgbtqcare.
About Dignity Health – Mercy and Memorial Hospitals
With three hospital campuses serving Bakersfield and its surrounding communities, Dignity Health provides comprehensive care—mind, body, and spirit—here at home. The hospitals feature 24/7 emergency departments, as well as a full range of award-winning and specialty services, including cardiac, orthopedic, maternity, neurological, burn, and cancer care, among others.