Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) — which includes Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital (SBSH) and Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital (SBELIH) — has been named a “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” for 2022 in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 15th anniversary edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). All of the Stony Brook hospitals received the top score of 100 on a survey encompassing non-discrimination and staff training, patient services and support, employee benefits and policies, and patient and community engagement.
“Year after year Stony Brook’s LGBTQ+ Committee is committed to providing high quality, equitable care to our LGBTQ+ community in Suffolk County,” said Hal Paz, MD, executive vice president of health sciences at Stony Brook University and chief executive officer, Stony Brook University Medicine. “I am proud of the entire Stony Brook Medicine healthcare system’s collective efforts and hard work to achieve this recognition.”
Each year, SBUH seeks new ways to address and affirm the specific and unique needs of LGBTQ+ individuals. In 2021, Stony Brook Medicine (SBM) realized there was scarce quantitative information available both nationally and regionally on the healthcare needs of LGBTQ+ persons. As a result, Stony Brook collaborated with more than 30 Long Island-based organizations and community leaders to reach all sectors of the LGBTQ+ community to complete the LGBTQ+ Health Needs Assessment Survey, launched during Pride Month in June 2021. The survey aimed to provide Long Island’s LGBTQ+ community with an opportunity to express their healthcare needs so SBM and its partners can better support them and advocate on their behalf. By the end of September 2021, a total of 1,150 participants completed the survey.
Stony Brook Medicine continues to grow its dynamic LGBTQ+ Committee, among all of its hospitals, to address the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, including patients, faculty, staff and trainees. The Stony Brook Medicine LGBTQ+ Committee is co-chaired by three SBUH-affiliated colleagues: Rose Cardin, MSN, RN, director, Patient Education, Stony Brook University Hospital; Allison Eliscu, MD, FAAP, chief, Adolescent Medicine, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital; and Adam Gonzalez, PhD, director, Behavioral Health, Stony Brook Medicine. The multidisciplinary group is made up of medical and behavioral health providers and trainees, nurses, students, education specialists, and representatives from Human Resources, Information Technology and hospital administration. Its mission is to review, address and affirm the specific and unique needs of LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as promote respectful and culturally sensitive care to the LGBTQ+ community.
“I am incredibly proud of the integral role Stony Brook University Hospital has played in supporting the LGBTQ+ community,” said Carol A. Gomes, chief executive officer for Stony Brook University Hospital. “This recognition from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation is a testament to the exemplary work we have been doing, including landmark initiatives such as administering the first LGBTQ+ Community Health Needs Assessment Survey to meet the unique healthcare needs of LGBTQ+ individuals.”
In May 2021, SBSH’s Edie Windsor Healthcare Center (formerly the David E. Rogers, MD Center), which has provided care for the LGBTQ+ community and those with HIV since the 1990s, moved to its new location in Hampton Bays to better serve the LGBTQ+ community. The practice, which cares for LGBTQ+ patients and continues to treat HIV patients, has a dedicated, full-time physician, Dr. Eric Lella, and specializes in providing confidential medical services in an accessible and caring environment regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
“The Edie Windsor Healthcare Center supports the right of every member of the LGBTQ+ community to receive world-class clinical care in a compassionate environment that is culturally sensitive to the specific needs of the individual,” said Robert S. Chaloner, chief administrative officer of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. “The Center is dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Stony Brook Southampton’s Diversity Leadership Council, a committee of 25 administrators, physicians, nurses, and other staff, actively educates, informs, and provides resources for the wider hospital community about diversity issues while seeking opportunities to build an inclusive and safe environment for all who work in, seek care at, or visit hospital facilities. To foster a sense of inclusion and compassion for all, the hospital has provided training to staff through the Responding to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) program and the Greater New York Hospital Association’s Cultural Competency and Health Literacy education programs.
Upon reviewing HEI recommendations and criteria to better understand the behavioral health and medical needs of its local LGBTQ+ community, SBELIH revised human resource and hospital wide policies, employee documents, terminology in medical records and facility signage. The changes enhanced SBELIH’s already strong focus on providing non-discriminatory and compassionate care. With a long history of serving the LGBTQ+ community, SBELIH continues to add clinicians and other staff members who specialize in LGBTQ+ care. John Batterman, credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselor, has counseled LGBTQ+ patients in recovery throughout his 27-year tenure. The hospital’s history of service contributed to HEI naming SBELIH a leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality.
“Providing gender affirming care is a cultural and organizational shift, and we have made that shift,” said Paul Connor, chief administrative officer of Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital. “To create an organization that is truly welcoming to LGBTQ+ patients, we engaged every department, from clinical care to medical records. Steps included ensuring we have inclusive terminology on medical records and forms, as well as boosting cultural sensitivity training for staff to increase awareness of the health needs of LGBTQ+ individuals.”
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
To learn more about how Stony Brook Medicine addresses the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, including patients, faculty, staff and trainees, please watch this video.
Stony Brook Medicine offers a range of specialized LGBTQ+ health services including a Talking About Gender (TAG) support group for teens to explore gender identity and expression, and learn ways to deal with stress. For more information on Stony Brook Medicine’s LGBTQ+ care, visit: stonybrookmedicine.edu/LGBTQ.