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Saratoga Hospital

The emergency entrance to Saratoga Hospital is seen in 2012. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Hospital has become the first hospital in the Capital Region and North Country to be designated an LGBTQ health care equality top performer.

The hospital received the designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, an organization that pushes for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

“This designation affirms that we prioritize an inclusive health care environment,” said Mary Jo LaPosta, senior vice president of patient care and organizational excellence and chief nursing officer, in a statement. “When a person comes through our doors seeking help, it’s not enough to just provide the best quality in health care services. We must also assure respect. Dignity. Trust. Our community of patients, visitors and staff deserve no less.”

The designation was also reported in the annual Healthcare Equality Index, which evaluates LGBTQ policies and practices in healthcare facilities. This year, it evaluated more than 1,600 facilities.

“HEI is looking for a higher standard than what government requires,” said LaPosta. “As HEI moves the bar higher each year, we sit down with those standards, do some serious self-reflection and use it to help us go from good to great and from great to greater. We are proud that, from a care perspective, we are very inclusive here at Saratoga Hospital.”

The index grades facilities on four criteria: LGBTQ patient-centered care, LGBTQ patient services and support, employee benefits and policies and LGBTQ patient and community engagement.

The goal of the index is to encourage health care facilities to improve care for LGBTQ patients. That can range from welcoming same-sex families to handling a transgendered patient’s illness while respecting their gender identity.

“With some of our biggest battles still ahead of us, it is crucial that institutions continue to demonstrate that the march toward full equality is not slowing down,” said Human Rights Campaign Foundation President Chad Griffin in a statement. “For the past decade, the HEI has been the road map to closing the gap in ensuring equal care to LGBTQ patients and their families, and we urge every health care facility to join us in this continuing effort to provide inclusive care to all.”

This year, 625 health care facilities voluntarily participated in the HEI survey. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation also researched the policies at more than 900 other hospitals to give them a score in the index.

Of those hospitals, 63 percent had patient non-discrimination policies that include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” and 53 percent had an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. However, 93 percent of the facilities had a policy allowing equal visitation from same-sex family members.

Glens Falls Hospital did not participate in the HEI survey and was not researched by the foundation.

Among the reasons why Saratoga Hospital earned the top performer designation was the event it recently sponsored at Saratoga Pride. The event, Trans Talk II, provided community education on transgender topics.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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