Orlando, Pride and the Healing Force of Love

clayton-thomason-prideRush University Medical Center celebrated LGBT Pride Month — and reflected on the recent mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida — during a reception on June 28. The Rev. Clayton Thomason, JD, MD, chairperson of the Department of Health, Religion and Human Values, began the gathering with this reflection about brokenness and healing.

The Stonewall Riots took place 47 years ago on June 28, giving rise to the modern LGBTQ movement. It’s why June is Pride Month. That movement led one year ago to the Supreme Court’s recognition of marriage equality, and on June 24, President Obama declared the site of the riots, the Stonewall Inn in the West Village of Manhattan, a National Monument.

That movement and its accomplishments, including Rush’s own LGBTQ accomplishments, are what we should be celebrating. But on June 12, pride was interrupted by tragedy, by grief.

There have been many responses in the weeks since the lives of 49 people were taken and 53 more were left injured and bleeding in the Pulse Nightclub. Some responses have been predictable, because — unfortunately — by now in our national life, they are all too familiar.

Stephen Colbert observed on the Late Show, “It’s as if there’s a national script that we have learned. And I think by accepting the script we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time. With nothing changing.”

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An Interest in LGBT Health Care

gregory-rauchBy Gregory Rauch, MD

When I applied to be an internal medicine physician at Rush University Medical Center more than a year and a half ago, I updated my CV to add that I had an “interest in LGBT health care.”

I began my career in a fairly conservative suburban practice where I was limited in my ability to serve the LGBT population openly. Throughout that time, my sexual orientation was a topic that was seldom discussed or brought up. It became frustrating to me that as a gay physician, I was not doing everything I could to be the best ally and advocate for the LGBT community.

I was aware, of course, of the health care disparities facing the community — from access to care to lack of education of health care providers. When I made the commitment to better serve the LGBT community, I quickly learned what limited resources existed in the world of medicine. Only very recently have medical schools begun to incorporate LGBT-focused diversity training into their curriculums, and even then, it is only provided at a limited number of schools.

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Taking Pride in Health Care Equality

Brad Hinrichs_2012By Bradley G. Hinrichs

American hospitals and clinics, including Rush University Medical Center, are increasingly committed to equality for their LGBT patients and staff, according to a report based on a national survey released in July by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization.

A record total of 718 health care facilities nationwide (an increase of 153 percent in participation relative to the 2012 survey) have explicitly pledged themselves to equal treatment for LGBT patients. That number includes 121 of the nation’s 151 Veterans Health Administration medical centers, compared to just one VHA participant in the 2012 survey. That’s great progress!

We at Rush can be very proud of our organization’s record on the Healthcare Equality Index, the annual survey administered by the HRC Foundation. We have participated in this assessment of our policies and practices for the last five years, and have achieved a perfect score each of those years on the four foundational criteria for equitable LGBT care. This has led to our recognition as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” for the fifth year in a row; a distinction achieved by no more than four other health care facilities nationally. These key criteria include providing equitable treatment to LGBT patients and families, nondiscrimination policies for LGBT patients and employees, visitation policies granting same-sex partners and parents the same consideration and rights as different-sex partners and parents, and training in LGBT patient-centered care for key leaders as well as caregiver staff.

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