Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
GCVHCS Earns LGBT Health Care Equality Designation
BILOXI, Miss. – The Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS) was designated an LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) during the 12th edition of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI).
A record 680 health care facilities actively participated in the HEI 2019 survey, with the HRC Foundation researching key policies at 1,000 additional non-participating hospitals. Of those included in the HEI, 406 institutions earned the LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader designation.
“The need for VHA to embrace, recognize and support out LGBTQ community is critical to success of our mission,” said Dr. Christopher Saslo, the GCVHCS associate director of Patient Care Services. “Without these brave men and women who sacrificed both past and present, our community of veterans and healthcare workers would not be nearly as rich as it is today. No longer will we, as a community, be content to hide in the shadows or shy away from being true to who we are, as we move into the next decade with pride and purpose.”
The 12th edition of the HEI report assesses participants on four criteria: Non-Discrimination and Staff Training, Patient Services and Support, Employee Benefits and Policies, and Patient and Community Engagement. A remarkable 406 facilities earned the HRC’s “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each of the criteria, earning an overall score of 100.
Furthermore, 148 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation for scoring 80 to 95 points. With 81 percent of participating facilities scoring 80 points or higher, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.
“The health care facilities that participate in HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index are making it clear they stand on the side of fairness and are committed to providing inclusive care to their LGBTQ patients,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “Going beyond inclusive non-discrimination policies, these health care facilities are adopting best practices in the areas of LGBTQ patient care and support, employee policies and benefits, and LGBTQ patient and community engagement. We commend all of the HEI participants for their commitment to providing inclusive care for all.”
Progress reflected in the 2019 HEI report shows the undertaking of LGBTQ practices and policies. Over half of the HEI participants now have written gender transition guidelines; 75 percent of hospitals surveyed offer trans-inclusive benefits, which is an eight percent increase from the previous year; a 35 percent increase in training hours with more than 94,000 hours of LGBTQ care training provided; and a 60 percent increase in the number of HEI participants whose electronic health records capture a patient’s sexual orientation, as well as a 40 percent increase in the number of HEI participants whose electronic health records capture a patient’s gender identity.
“Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System is committed to providing excellent healthcare in a welcoming environment to our Veterans with LGBTQ and related identities,” said LGBTQ Veteran Care Coordinator Kelly Russo. “We are honored to serve all who served.”
The Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, along with the Mobile, Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City VA Clinics are all part of the GCVHCS, which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 70,000 Veterans.