Southwest Missouri Health Systems Add Critical LGBT Protections and Benefits

southwestBy: Andrew Shaughnessy

Over the past several months, my organization has worked closely with 47 Missouri hospitals, that have included 105 new LGBT welcoming policies to their own internal policies. In Southwest Missouri, I’ve worked closely with CoxHealth on updating its LGBT welcoming policies, after policy changes occurred at Mercy as well in 2014.

In January of 2015, CoxHealth has completed updates to its network policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity in both patient and employee nondiscrimination protections, and amending its definition of spouse to include same-sex partner health benefits for its employees. This update affects CoxHealth’s five-hospitals and more than 80 physician clinics in the region. Mercy updated its employee nondiscrimination protections to also include gender identity.

In 2014, according to the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), issued by the Human Rights Campaign, Missouri ranked 6th in the nation, and 1st in the Midwest for hospitals that qualify as “Leaders in LGBT Health,” with 19 leader hospitals. This is significant progress from 2013, when Missouri ranked 36th with only 2 leader hospitals. To access PROMO’s resource map that ranks Missouri’s hospitals on their LGBT welcoming policies, please visit:

“I am so pleased that CoxHealth Systems is creating progress in Southwest Missouri by establishing equal benefits for both its LGBT employees and patients,” says Amanda Derham, an employee at CoxHealth. “As an LGBT employee and patient at CoxHealth, it means a lot to know that my family and I are now treated fairly. As one of the largest non-profit organizations and employers in the region, Cox is setting a great example for other businesses to follow!”

PROMO actively reviewed network policies and provided technical assistance to CoxHealth officials during this process. Recently, the City of Springfield updated their comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance in employment, housing, and public accommodations inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. A potential repeal of those critical protections is set for the April 7th municipal ballot in Springfield.

“We applaud the work of both CoxHealth and Mercy on creating health care spaces that are welcoming to all of their patients and employees. As two of the leading health care providers in Southwest Missouri, CoxHealth and Mercy recognize that in order to attract and retain the best talent to the region, as well as provide the highest quality of care to their patients, they must protect all of their patients and employees, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity,” concluded Andrew Shaughnessy, Manager of Public Policy.

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