By: Andrew Shaughnessy
2014 proved to be a monumental year for LGBT Missourians and their health. Those monumental steps had been the recognition of out-of-state marriages by the State of Missouri, and the leadership of nearly 47 Missouri hospitals, who have included 105 new LGBT welcoming policies to their core values. As an LGBT Missourian it certainly gives me relief to know that I can access health care facilities and be me: my authentic self.
In 2013, only two Missouri Hospitals, Children’s Mercy in Kansas City and the VA in St. Louis, qualified as leaders in the Human Rights Campaign Care Equality Index (HEI). During the launch of the 2014 HEI, several of Missouri’s top hospitals had been reviewed on their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) welcoming policies. Several hospitals both in rural and urban areas started working to ensure their facilities were welcoming to all. In the report, Missouri zoomed from 37th to 6th in the Nation, 1st in the Midwest for a Hospitals that received a “Leader in LGBT Health” status – this included 19 Hospitals.
We have truly made LGBT health matter among Missouri’s top hospitals, but the work of the LGBT health policy project does not stop there. Through our collaboration with SAGE Metro St. Louis, we will be training Missouri’s health and social service professionals to understand the unique needs of LGBT patients. And we will continue to advocate for the health of LGBT families and our families of choice.
As we begin to look at the legal future for the LGBT community, we must be concerned with the growing disparities we find in LGBT health. Our next frontier is on the borders of health and making sure that we are a strong and healthy community. I’m humbled to be a part of this work. Having experienced discrimination in a healthcare setting myself, I assure you your voice is not going unheard.