For the second time, all four St. Charles hospital campuses have been recognized by the annual Healthcare Equality Index for their policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of LGTBQ+ patients, visitors and employees.

The 2022 Healthcare Equality Index named St. Charles Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmond each as a “Top Performer” in its annual report, which has been published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for the past 15 years. They are four of 251 health care providers nationwide to receive “Top Performer” designation.

The four St. Charles hospitals also made the list in 2020.

“At St. Charles, we are striving to create America’s healthiest community, together. And when we say ‘together,’ we mean together – with everyone having a seat at the table,” said St. Charles President and CEO Joe Sluka. “Across our health system and Central Oregon, we are committed to being a place where people feel welcome and accepted, whether they are receiving care or providing care. We still have work to do, but this recognition by the Healthcare Equality Index is evidence that we are on the right track.”

The HEI is a national benchmarking tool that evaluates and scores health care facilities on detailed criteria falling under four central pillars:

  • Foundational policies and training in LGBTQ+ patient-centered care
  • LGBTQ+ patient services and support
  • Employee benefits and policies
  • Patient and community engagement

Facilities are evaluated and scored on a scale of 100. Each of the four St. Charles hospitals received a score of 90 on the strength of their non-discrimination and staff training, their patient services and support and their employee benefits and policies.

Over the past few years, St. Charles has taken many steps to create an inclusive environment, including protecting LGBTQ+ caregivers and patients from discrimination in the workplace and in receiving care. Earlier this year, the health system hired a manager of caregiver inclusion and experience, Dr. Shilo Tippett, who oversees the organization’s work to establish and grow a culture of inclusion, diversity, equity and acceptance (IDEA).

Alongside the caregivers on St. Charles’ IDEA Council, Tippett is working on developing programs to educate managers and physicians on inclusivity, incorporating IDEA concepts into the health system’s orientation for new caregivers and annual education for all caregivers, and investing in IDEA training for key roles within the organization.

And in 2019, several members of St. Charles’ executive leadership group completed a three-part training on LGTBQ+ patient-centered care, while more than 350 caregivers went through the health system’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Class.

“We’re doing more than just talking about this stuff,” Tippett said recently. “We’re taking action.”

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