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VA medical campus honored for LGBT care
Health care » Right group says local system is a leader due to its emphasis on inclusiveness.
First Published Jul 11 2013 02:43 pm • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:35 pm

Under the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" mandate, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender troops were terrified to reveal their sexuality. Not anymore.

At a glance

Utah health care facilities praised by Healthcare Equality Index

The VA Salt Lake City Health Care System

University of Utah facilities:

Center for Reproductive Medicine

Clinical Neuroscience Center

Diabetes Center

University Hospital

Neuropsychiatric Institute

Orthopaedic Hospital

Sleep-Wake Center

The Huntsman Institute

John A. Moran Eye Center

Madison Health Center

Redwood Health Center

Sugar House Health Center

South Jordan Health Center

Stansbury Health Center

Westridge Health Center

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Now the Veterans Administration Health Care System in Salt Lake City champions inclusivity in the physical and mental health care it provides. And on Thursday, the Human Rights Campaign's Healthcare Equality Index deemed the center a 2013 leader in LGBT care for its emphasis on equal rights in treatment, visitations, employment and training.

"When people are marginalized, they need a safe place to process how that's been in their lives," said Breeze Hannaford-Dyer, the V.A.'s military sexual trauma program coordinator and an outpatient therapist at its mood and anxiety clinic.

The V.A. has mandated LGBT inclusion for about three years, she said, and most recently has provided pre- and post-operative care for people who have undergone transgender surgery.

"It's a military microcosm of what's happening in society," Hannaford-Dyer said. "There's more consciousness, but we have a long way to go."

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One way to do that is the V.A.'s pride celebration on campus, where an open mic lets veterans talk about what it's like for them and their families to be supported by the V.A. center's patients and staff.

"We need to be treating all who served equally and honor and acknowledge their families," Hannaford-Dyer said. "There are so many stereotypes and myths. But more and more, myths are being broken."

The Human Rights Campaign's president, Chad Griffin, said in the report that the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) survey included 718 health care facilities in its report, a 153 percent increase from the 2012 count. Of those, 464 facilities earned the designation of "leader in LGBT health care equality," a 199 percent increase from 2012.

"We are honored and proud to be awarded Equity leader status," said Steve Young, director of the V.A. complex. "This recognition just further validates our employees' deep commitment to providing the highest quality health care for all veterans. When a veteran comes through our doors, we see an American hero, and that's all we see."

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