Newswise — Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) has earned the “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). The designation was awarded in the 13th edition of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI).

“We are proud to receive this recognition from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation," said Louis A. Shapiro, HSS president and CEO. "It indicates we are fulfilling our mission to provide the highest quality of care for all and affirms our commitment to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community and their families. “

Every year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation recognizes health care facilities that participate in the HEI for their dedication and commitment to LGBTQ inclusion. In order to receive the LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader designation, an institution must receive the maximum score of 100 points on the Healthcare Equality Index survey, which evaluates hospitals and health care facilities on LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. The survey covers four key areas: nondiscrimination policies and staff training; patient services and support; employee benefits and policies; and patient and community engagement.

Health care facilities are “making it clear from their participation in the HEI that they stand on the side of fairness and are committed to providing inclusive care to their LGBTQ patients,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “We commend all of the HEI participants for their commitment to providing inclusive care for all.”

“This designation is in line with our HSS values of diversity and inclusion, which underscore our commitment to equity and a sense of belonging for patients, employees and communities,” said Bryan T. Kelly, MD, MBA, HSS surgeon-in-chief and medical director. “We will continue to address health care disparities that affect vulnerable communities so we can continue to provide everyone with the outstanding, patient-centered care they deserve."

HSS has worked to ensure that best practices are in place to provide patient-centered care for LGBTQ+ patients and their families, according to Melissa Flores, outcomes manager in the Department of Social Work Programs at HSS. For example, both patient and employee non-discrimination policies specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the HSS visitation policy is LGBTQ+ inclusive.

HSS has a hospital-wide LGBTQ+ Committee, with Susan Flics, vice president of Operations as the executive sponsor and Jillian Rose, PhD., director of Community Engagement, Diversity and Research as the team leader. “This is a multidisciplinary group of leaders who are committed to planning, creating and implementing appropriate education interventions, guidelines, and policies that promote the highest quality patient experiences for LGBTQ+ patients,” Ms. Flics explains. “It also promotes a working environment that reflects dignity and respect for our employees who identify across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.”

All staff are required to complete a mandatory LGBTQ+ sensitivity training each year as a part of the annual staff development modules. In addition, department-specific training is conducted across the board for both clinical and nonclinical staff.

“Just last year, more than 700 staff were trained in person on Fostering an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Environment, which covers LGBTQ+ health disparities, federal and state regulations, HSS policies, and best practices for providing care to LGBTQ+ patients and their loved ones,” Dr. Rose noted. “Additionally, HSS staff completed 150-plus hours of training over the last two years—above and beyond what is required for the HEI application.”

Over the years, HSS has also deepened its commitment to integrating preferred name, pronouns, gender identity and sexual orientation data collection into the electronic medical record, according to Ms. Rose.

For the past three years, HSS has been a proud sponsor of the NYC Pride March, highlighting its commitment to caring for and supporting LGBTQ+ patients and HSS employees.

About the Human Rights Campaign Foundation

The Human Right Campaign Foundation is the education arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

About HSS

HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the 11th consecutive year), No. 4 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2020-2021), and named a leader in pediatric orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” list (2020-2021). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has the lowest complication and readmission rates in the nation for orthopedics, and among the lowest infection rates. HSS was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State, as well as in Florida. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, academic trainees, and consumers in more than 130 countries. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally. www.hss.edu.