St. Pete General joins only 418 healthcare providers nationwide to earn the "LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader" designation.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) announced their "LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader" designation for St. Pete General Hospital. The designation was awarded in the 11th edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), released March 27. A record 626 healthcare facilities actively participated in the HEI 2018 survey.

"We cover inclusive education within our workforce to better care for LGBTQ patients and their loved ones. We are also an inclusive LGBTQ workplace, providing equal employment opportunities while respecting and ensuring privacy," stated Janice Balzano, President and CEO of St. Petersburg General Hospital.

"With some of our biggest battles still ahead of us, it is crucial that institutions continue to demonstrate that the march toward full equality is not slowing down," said HRC PRESIDENT CHAD GRIFFIN. "The 626 participants in this year's HEI continue this march in partnership with the LGBTQ community and we commend them for their leadership. For over a decade, the HEI has been the roadmap to closing the gap in ensuring equal care to LGBTQ patients and their families, and we urge every healthcare facility to join us in this continuing effort to provide inclusive care to all."

The 11th edition of the HEI marks the second year that participants are given a numerical score based on their LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. HEI participants are given scores in four criteria: foundational elements of LGBTQ patient-centered care, LGBTQ Patient Services and Support, Employee Benefits and Policies and LGBTQ Patient and Community Engagement. Participants that receive the maximum score in each section earn the coveted status of "2018 LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader."

In the 2018 report, an impressive 418 facilities earned HRC's "LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader" designation with a score of 100. Another 95 facilities earned the "Top Performer" designation for scoring from 80 to 95 points. With 82 percent of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, healthcare facilities are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.

Of the hospitals who did not participate in the HEI but were scored based on research, only 63 percent have patient non-discrimination policies that include both "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," and only 53 percent were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. The equal visitation policy, at 93 percent, is the only one that comes close to matching the rate of the participating facilities.