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AMA's convention features LGBT forum
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2018-06-12

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The American Medical Association ( AMA ) Advisory Committee on LGBTQ Issues held an LGBTQ and allies reception and presentation, Success stories: Scoring 100 on the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) health care ( HEI ) and corporate equality ( CEI ) indexes, June 8 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. This was one of many events at the organization's annual convention that weekend.

AMA Advisory Committee on LGBTQ Issues Chair Dr. Scott Chaiet explained that the committee's role is to make recommendations to the AMA board on ways to move forward on important issues. He said the AMA adopted the committee's recommendation to assemble a working group to educate the medical community and public on gender identity.

Chaiet recognized the current members of the advisory committee including the newly appointed Dr. Magda Houlberg, Howard Brown Health's chief clinical officer. He also spoke about the amicus briefs the AMA signed onto in support of LGBTQ-focused court cases nationwide.

AMA Health Solutions Group Vice President Denise Foy spoke about the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity ( SOGI ) data collection the AMA will be doing when memberships are up for renewal in the fall of this year.

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality Delegate to the AMA House of Delegates Dr. Jeremy Toler explained that GLMA is working on resolutions to bring Q and the term queer into AMA policy and the creation of an LGBTQ Health Specialty Council.

AMA Young Physicians Section and Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Emergency Medicine Director Dr. Erick A. Eiting spoke about what 100 percent HRC HEI and CEI scores do for corporations and healthcare facilities ahead of presentations by Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital Gender and Sex Development Program Manager Jennifer Leininger, Advocate Aurora Health Chicago LGBTQ Ombudsman and Diversity & Inclusion Co-Chair Oscar Zambrano and Teva Pharmaceutical Global Therapeutic Area Lead Dr. Joshua Cohen.

Leininger explained that Lurie Children's got to a 100 percent score due to an increase in trans and gender expansive patients through the Gender and Sex Development Program, improved Lurie Children's staff engagement and hospital leadership support. She said awareness about LGBTQ issues was the key to these positive changes occurring.

In terms of Lurie's growth on LGBTQ-inclusive policies, Leininger noted that these occurred due to patients, families and staff speaking out. She explained that the medical center has updated the necessary systems so Lurie would be fully LGBTQ-inclusive. This included all single use bathrooms being changed to all gender bathrooms, training all staff members on the new initiatives and voluntary pride flags on hospital employee badges. Leininger said that the way people can affect change at their workplace is to keep talking about these issues until they are resolved.

Zambrano spoke about the merger Advocate recently went through with Aurora Health in Wisconsin and the ways they are bringing the Wisconsin facilities in line with what they are doing in Illinois around LGBTQ-affirming policies. He said one of the reasons why Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital has been at the forefront is due to its proximity to Boystown/Lakeview and its history serving the LGBTQ community. One of these things was the hospital's HIV-AIDS Unit 371, the first of its kind in Chicago, that was turned into a graphic novel, Taking Turns, by one of the nurses MK Czerwiec, who worked in the unit during the 1990s.

In terms of Advocate's HRC HEI score, the hospital has achieved 100 points for 11 years and has consistently been a healthcare leader since the inception of the HEI. Although the hospital has been a leader regarding LGBTQ-affirming policies, Zambrano explained that there is always work to be done to improve things even more and maintain a perfect score so an LGBTQ Health Strategic Platform was created. He noted that the hospital also formed a Community Advisory Council and an internal LGBTQA Task Force to facilitate work on cultural competency as well as created SOGI, Affinity, transgender and health advocacy work groups. Zambrano said getting support from both administrative and clinical staff leadership is key and to make affirming care a part of everything they do. He said a bottom-up approach where patients and the community can engage has also affected positive change.

Cohen said Teva began the HRC CEI process in 2015 because of the urging of the Pride Network employee resource group ( ERG ). He explained that the ERG met with human resources and the inclusion and diversity staff to talk about HRC and the CEI. The process moved forward after that meeting, according to Cohen, and the company received their first score in 2016—80 points. Cohen noted that the 2016 score was due to a lack of comprehensive healthcare coverage for transgender employees and no public engagement from Teva around LGBTQ issues.

Teva moved to raise the score by engaging in community outreach and in 2017 the company received 85 points. Cohen explained that the company was in the process of doing more community outreach and updating the transgender healthcare coverage but had not fully implemented it until the 2018 score came out which was a 100. He noted that Teva also rewrote the parental leave policies to be inclusive of all parents and family structures. Cohen said the entire company was so excited by this score that they posted the news on the company's website. The company is currently working on making the adjustments so their 2019 CEI will also be a 100.

A Q&A session followed the presentations.

See www.ama-assn.org/about/advisory-committee-lgbtq-issues for more information.


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