Just over half of
88 hospitals got top marks under a new rating system
created by two national gay rights organizations that hope
the standards will result in more compassionate
treatment of gay and lesbian patients.
addressed in the ratings include patient nondiscrimination,
visitation and decision-making rights for partners,
diversity training for staff, and nondiscriminatory
participated voluntarily, and the groups behind the report
said there will be no effort to rate hospitals that don't
want to respond. Instead, they hope many hospitals
will strive for high ratings as the survey recurs
Healthcare Equality Index, the ratings were designed by the
Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Medical
The index is
modeled after the HRC's Corporate Equality Index, which
rates corporations on policies for gay and lesbian workers.
It has tracked a surge in the number of Fortune 500
companies offering benefits to employees' same-sex
Some responses to
the new survey came from hospital networks. Kaiser
Permanente, answering on behalf of 31 hospitals in
California and Hawaii, said all met the survey's 10
criteria. They were among 45 hospitals in all with top
Hospitals of Cleveland, representing 10 Ohio hospitals, said
they fully met only two criteria -- domestic-partner
benefits for employees and a patient nondiscrimination
policy that includes sexual orientation.
The HRC and the
medical association said their goal is to highlight
hospitals with high rankings and induce others to abandon
''Too many times,
a gay man has been unable to comfort his partner, a
transgender person has been ridiculed instead of treated, or
a lesbian mom has been barred from seeing her child at
the hospital,'' the groups said.
In one example
cited by the HRC, attorney Kenneth Johnson described his
struggle to verify his relationship with his partner, James
Massey, in 2006 when Massey was rushed unconscious to
Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Johnson said he
had to travel back to his home in Virginia to fetch legal
documents before the hospital allowed him to join in medical
decision-making for Massey, who had suffered a cerebral
hemorrhage and died the next day. The two men had
registered as domestic partners in California and had
an adopted son.
includes recommendations for hospitals, starting with the
forms filled out by patients. It recommends that
''transgender'' be an option for gender and that
relationship status include the term ''partnered'' as
well as ''single,'' ''married,'' ''divorced,'' and
The gay rights
groups said the ratings are intended to create a
best-practices standard that would counteract the patchwork
nature of state laws and hospital policies affecting
gays and lesbians.
For example, 20
states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual
orientation, and 12 also ban discrimination based on gender
identity; hospitals in other states theoretically can
refuse to hire people because they are gay or lesbian.
Ten states extend
legal recognition of some sort to same-sex
partnerships, and hospitals there already offer those
couples equal visitation and decision-making rights.
In other states, hospital practices on those matters
hospitals completing the survey was Vanderbilt University
Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., where there is no state
recognition of same-sex partnerships.
Joel Lee, the
hospital's associate vice chancellor for communications,
said the facility nonetheless has a policy respecting
same-sex partners' rights. It honors the wishes of
patients who can express themselves and encourages
staff to ''sort it out in a humane way'' in cases where one
partner is incapacitated, Lee said.
president of the Human Rights Campaign, said he was
pleased by the response to the survey, even though hundreds
of hospitals did not reply to an invitation to
beginning of a dialogue,'' he said. ''We're not calling out
the bad guys -- we're trying to show them the
way.'' (David Crary, AP)