SIUH recognized for its care of LGBT patients

Kathryn Carse/Staten Island Advance By Kathryn Carse/Staten Island Advance
on October 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM, updated October 28, 2013 at 4:07 PM
SIUH LGBT.jpg Celina Ramsey, right, language, health literacy and diversity coordinator, and Dr. Mark Raden, center, chairman of the department of radiology, welcome Dr. Harvey Makadon, director of the National LGBT Health Education Center, to Staten Island University Hospital to celebrate its designation as a LGBT friendly health-care facility.
Staten Island Advance/Kathryn Carse

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Staten Island University Hospital acknowledged its recent designation as an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) friendly health-care facility with a visit from renowned LGBT health care educator Dr. Harvey J. Makadon.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recognized SIUH for its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who often face challenges when seeking medical treatment. The hospital is among 26 health-care facilities in New York State that are LGBT friendly.

At a luncheon with hospital administrators preceding his talk, Dr. Makadon, director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at the Fenway Institute in Boston, commended hospital administrators for efforts to establish an “inclusive and affirmative” atmosphere at SIUH. 

“The experience is one of being out of your cultural element, not feeling understood, which ultimately interferes with your health care,” said Dr. Makadon, referring to of the encounters of many LGBT patients.

SIUH, met four key criteria — patients’ bill of rights, visitation policy, employment and training in LGBT patient-care for staff — to become Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality.

“The perception, historically, is that the [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered] patient is not going to get treatment they will get in Manhattan, that Manhattan is a friendlier place. We want to make sure the community knows that we have a friendly, well-informed place here,” said Celina Ramsey, who as diversity coordinator with SIUH is coordinating the LGBT initiative.

Steps have included including same-sex couples in promotional materials and training staff to be able to ask questions that do not make presumptions about sexual identity or orientation.

Whether or not a person responds to questions these questions, said Dr. Makadon, “it lets people know you are open to hearing about it and creates a dynamic for communication in the future.”

In an address after lunch that included students and residents Dr. Makadon,who is also a clinical professor of medicine at Harvard University, continued to explore the importance of establishing a “welcoming and inclusive environment for caring, learning and working.”

Commenting that there are times when we all experience disparities in health care, he asked “what are the implications of not knowing what someone’s sexual orientation is?”

Some of the implications are seen in the numbers, he said. For example, men who have sex with men, ages 13 to 24, don’t feel they are connected to any kind of care. Lesbian and bi-sexual women use preventative health services less frequently than the general population.

“Making questions about sexual history routine, without making assumptions, can help remove discomfort as a barrier to health care,” said Dr. Makadon.

Dr. Qusai Hammouri, a pediatric orthopedist with SIUH attended the talk.

“I’m very proud of our hospital for being a leader. It’s very helpful to broach the topic and to know resources and such great education are available,” he said.

SIUH, along with North Shore LI-J Health System hospitals Southside and Lenox Hill, are among the 464 health-care facilities nationwide that achieved Equality Leader status and were recognized in the Healthcare Equality Index 2013.

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