NYC Public Hospitals to Implement LGBT Sensitivity Training
The New York City Health and Hospitals Coalition announced on Wednesday, May 25, that it will require all of its more than 37,000 employees to undergo mandatory training designed to ensure LGBT New Yorkers receive culturally competent health care.
The curriculum, on which the National LGBT Cancer Network collaborated with the HHC, will focus on a number of topics. These include awareness of increased LGBT-specific risk factors, the use of inclusive language and gender-appropriate pronouns, making appropriate referrals and affirming a patient’s decision to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. The training also includes a 10-minute video that features LGBT New Yorkers discussing their experiences accessing (or not accessing) the health care system.
Alan Aviles, president of HHC, unveiled the video at Bellevue Hospital.
"HHC will ensure health providers are more equipped to treat LGBT patients better," he said.
Rosemary Lopez is among those who appear in the "To Treat Me, You Have to Know Who I Am: Welcoming Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Patients into Healthcare" video. She and her partner had to rush their daughter to the emergency room while on vacation at Walt Disney World. Hospital staff initially would not allow both women to be with their daughter. Lopez, a former HHC staffer, requested a patient advocate. And she and her partner were eventually allowed to see their daughter together.
"If it was heterosexual parents that walked into that emergency room, they would not have had that problem," said Lopez.
As EDGE has previously reported, studies have repeatedly shown that LGBT people are disproportionately unable to access adequate and quality health care. Liz Margolies, founder and executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, pointed out that 20 percent of trans people have been denied care by a doctor.
"This is simply unacceptable and it must change," she said.
Margolies further described the training as a "groundbreaking curriculum" that offers "simple, yet concrete steps for change." Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs stressed access to quality health care is part of the Bloomberg administration’s broader commitment to LGBT New Yorkers that includes marriage equality.
"We want everyone to know they have access to the same rights that everyone else in the city does," she said.
Doctor Reena Batra, acting division chief of hematology at Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn, added the HHC’s mandated curriculum simply acknowledges that LGBT patients have unique medical needs. "I do not believe in a one-size health care system fits all," she said. "We must be able to meet the patient where ever he or she may be."
HHC will begin to conduct the trainings next month.