Providing inclusive care can improve LGBT patients’ satisfaction and engagement with their health care, and that’s what Denver Health has set out to do by transforming into one of the most LGBT-friendly medical systems in Colorado.
“I saw these young people in school-based education centers who were getting lost,” said Kari Kuka, director of Denver Health’s LGBT Center of Excellence. “They got good care while at school, but they didn’t know what provider to go to at Denver Health as an adult. Our tagline is, ‘For life’s journey,’ and I believe that if you’re going to live in Denver, we should be able to care for you during your entire lifespan.”
To start its transformation, Denver Health trained all of their employees on how to talk to patients about sexual orientation and gender identity. They then offered advanced training for clinician champions for the LGBT community, such as surgeons who wanted to offer gender affirmation surgeries.
Using Epic, Denver Health implemented a sexual orientation and gender identity form that staff use to start a conversation about sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex assigned at birth with every patient. After the form is completed, the pronouns specified by the patient appear in the chart to ensure that providers know which pronouns to use when they address the patient.
Denver Health’s work has earned them recognition as a leader in LGBT health care by the Human Rights Campaign, and they received an Ally Award from LGBT advocacy organization One Colorado. Patients are starting to recognize Denver Health’s transformation as well. Since January 2017, more than 1300 new LGBT patients have entered into the Denver Health system, 85% of whom identify as gender expansive.