Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital has been named an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. This marks the hospital's sixth consecutive year as a leader in the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI).
Truman VA is one of merely 406 hospitals nationwide to earn the equality leader designation. The 2019 HEI evaluated more than 1,600 health care facilities in the United States, to include approximately 1,000 non-participating hospitals.
The HEI measures hospital policies and practices designed to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) inclusion, both for patients and employees. Participating facilities were evaluated in four areas: non-discrimination and staff training; services and support for LGBTQ patients; employee benefits and policies; and LGBTQ patient and community engagement. Facilities that scored the maximum of 100 points on the annual survey were designated leaders. Hospitals that scored between 80 and 95 points were named top performers.
“At Truman VA, we are committed to providing excellent health services for all our Veterans,” FACHE Director of Truman VA David Isaacks says. “I’m very proud that we have been designated an equality leader once again this year – not only for the Veterans we serve, but also for our staff. We want to ensure that Truman VA is a safe, welcoming and respectful place for everyone.”
The annual HEI survey, now in its 12th year, became more comprehensive in 2015 by scoring facilities on all their LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. Implementing robust programming and increased training helped Truman VA meet the latest standards.
One of the health system’s most impactful equality initiatives is the Truman VA Safe Zone program. The Safe Zone program is a facility-wide initiative that promotes awareness, respect and support of LGBTQ Veteran patients and their families, hospital guests, and VA employees. To be active in the program, hospital employees must complete orientation and keep current with ongoing training. The program is led by Truman VA’s LGBTQ Veteran Care Coordinator, Beth Hager-Harrison-Prado, LCSW.
“An estimated one million Veterans who served our country with honor identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning,” said Hager-Harrison-Prado, who also is a Veteran of the U.S. Navy and served in the Persian Gulf during Operation Earnest Will. “I am proud that our leadership and our health system is committed to community equality. Being an HEI leader means that we provide the highest quality of care for LGBTQ Veterans, and we do that because it's the right thing to do.”
Of those hospitals that did not participate in the 2019 HEI, only 67 percent had patient non-discrimination policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, only 62 percent had an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy.
Truman VA offers a full continuum of inpatient and outpatient health services to Veterans from 43 counties in Missouri, as well as Pike County, Illinois.
Approximately 40,000 Veterans receive health care at Truman VA each year from comprehensive services that include primary care, medical and surgical specialties, behavioral health, physical and occupational therapy, pharmacy services and more. As a referral center, Truman VA also provides cardiovascular care to include open heart surgery. Additionally, Truman VA outpatient clinic appointments exceed 400,000 visits annually.