SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Two Central Coast hospitals have received special recognition from the Human Rights Campaign.
Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo and Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton have earned the designation of "LGBTQ+ Health Care Equality Leader." They've put in the time to train in LGBTQ patient centered care.
"It's really important that everybody be recognized for who they are and just be treated as human beings," said Doug Huemann, Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA) Pride and Diversity Center President. Huemann helped both local Tenet hospitals receive the training to become an affirming health care organization.
Sierra Vista Chief Nursing Officer Art Dominguez is part of the group that makes sure that training continues any time health care providers have questions.
"They want to make sure they're not saying the wrong thing or if they make a mistake what do they do if they make a mistake?" Dominguez said. "And it really is just apologizing for the mistake that was made and making sure that we do our best to not make that mistake intentionally again."
Dominguez also has the title of Transgender Patient Navigator for Sierra Vista and Twin Cities hospitals. He says the transgender community is inclined to seek out certified hospitals.
"Because they know the facilities have gone through the extra training," Dominguez said. "And that is encompassing of patient non-discrimination policies and procedures and equal visitation rights for their loved ones."
For an LGBTQ patient, in-take paper work can be problematic, something Dominguez says Tenet Health is working to change.
"Any time there's he or she in policies or procedures, we're changing it to they or them or they're, and removing that pronoun because we're not sure it applies to everybody so we can't assume that they're identifying male or female," Dominguez said.
Studies show the LGBTQ community has faced discrimination and mistreatment in health care settings that can make them reluctant to seek medical care. Huemann is hoping more hospitals get the training and certifications to change that.
"I just think it's important that more hospitals sign on, but I'm really happy to say that we have two," Huemann said.
Sierra Vista and Twin Cities Hospitals are two of less than 500 hospitals nationwide to receive the LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader designation. Both hospitals received perfect scores of 100 on the Health Equality Index which measures participants in four areas: Non-discrimination and staff training, patient services and support, employee benefits and policies, and patient and community engagement.
This is the third consecutive year Twin Cities Community Hospital has received the distinction of LGBTQ+ Equality leader, and the second year in a row for Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.