Utah hospitals offer inclusive policies for patients and employees

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Utah hospitals were absent in a survey sent out by the Human Rights Campaign to top hospitals in the nation asking about their queer-inclusive policies. Only 87 hospitals across the nation participated; many hospitals did not respond to the survey as they were unaware of its existence, including University of Utah Health Care.

“We get about a survey a day and we just don’t have time to fill them all out,” said Chris Nelson, spokesperson for U of U Health Care. “We actually have extremely inclusive policies and we strive to provide the best care for all our patients and treat all employees fairly.”

The hospitals that did reply to the survey and made the HRC list of hospitals include Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Massachusetts General in Boston and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Top hospitals in Utah, including University of Utah Health Care, Intermountain Healthcare and Mountainstar offer sensitivity training to all new hires that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The three institutions also offer domestic-partnership benefits to their employees.

“Our goal is to offer the best care to the patient and do whatever we can to make sure he or she gets the support needed,” Nelson said.

Along with inclusive policies for employees, hospitals that receive funding from Medicare and Medicaid are now required to allow same-sex partner visitation rights. This means that a patient may select a same-sex partner to accompany him or her in the room. The partner will be treated just like any other family member and will be allowed to stay in the room as long as is advisable, Nelson said. If the patient is unconscious, a same-sex partner may have to present power of attorney in which the patient gives permission for visitation.

“Even if you don’t have the documentation, unless we suspected something was seriously wrong, we would allow (a partner) in to visit,” Nelson said. “We have not had an issue with this situation yet, which is a very good thing.”

To request that a partner have the ability to make end-of-life decisions, a power of attorney must also be drawn up and notarized.

“We try to make sure that our patients have whomever they’d like to support them,” Nelson said. “We offer the same treatment to everyone and simply do not discriminate.”

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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