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VCU Medical Center earns “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality High Performer” designation by Human Rights Campaign Foundation

The national designation highlights VCU Medical Center’s unwavering dedication to patient-focused care and the importance of inclusion in health care settings.

Skyline of VCU Medical Center with award logo. This is the first year VCU Health participated in the the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index survey. (Sherilyn Smail, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

By Sara McCloskey

When you sit down in a patient room at VCU Medical Center, you may catch a glimpse of hospital staff wearing a pin or sticker next to their badge with their pronouns.

This is one of the steps VCU Health System has taken to provide inclusive care for patients who are part of the LGBTQ+ community that recently garnered national attention.

VCU Medical Center, VCU Health’s largest facility in downtown Richmond, is one of 462 health care facilities nationwide to earn the “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality High Performer” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC).

More than 1,000 healthcare facilities participated in the HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) and scoring process, of which less than half received the “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality High Performer” designation. This is the first year VCU Health participated in the survey.

“Achieving this designation is a huge milestone for VCU Health System. The message we hope it shares with our patients is that we are committed to delivering health care in a manner that respects diversity and inclusivity with the full intent of ensuring an optimal patient experience and achieving better health outcomes for all,” said Marcelle Davis, DSL, vice president of Inclusive Excellence for VCU Health System.

Four pins with a variety of pronouns on them lay flat on a person’s hands.

VCU Health’s pronoun pins come in several variations. Since the start of the initiative in 2022, thousands of pins have been distributed throughout the health system. (Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

The survey reviewed hospitals’ policies to eliminate bias and create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ patients, efforts to collect and display a patient’s pronouns to prevent misgendering them in electronic health records, and the availability of official employee resource groups, among other initiatives.

VCU Health is making strides in these areas by offering Safe Zone training, the PRIDE team member resource group, and creating pronoun pins and stickers for team members, which come in six variations – she/her/hers; he/him/his; they/them/theirs, they/she, they/he, and with the phrase “Ask me about my pronouns.”

“These programs and initiatives are crucial for everyone to understand that there is strength in our diverse individualities. When we appreciate each other’s uniqueness, we are connected as a whole community,” said Stacy Johnson, equal employment opportunity and affirmative action manager for VCU Health’s Office of Inclusive Excellence. “Everyone working in tandem to accomplish these goals becomes visible within and outside the organization, and this makes it attractive for our team members and patients to choose VCU Health as their employer and provider.”

“Our team members are our patients, and it is important to invest in programs and initiatives that are grounded in equity and inclusive excellence,” Davis said. “We are all uniquely different with different needs and lived experiences, and if we take the time to learn about each other and celebrate the different dimensions of diversity we embody, we eventually recognize that our diversity is our strength. This approach makes us health care providers of choice and change agents because we don’t just talk about our values, we live them out loud.”

This year’s HEI survey comes as LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely than non-LGBTQ+ adults to be “treated unfairly or with disrespect by a doctor or health care provider” in the last three years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Learn more about VCU Health’s community impact