RWJBarnabas health facilities earn top score in health care equality index

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Eight RWJBarnabas Health facilities have been recognized and redesignated as “Leaders in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” and two RWJBarnabas Health facilities received new designations by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The facilities recognized and redesignated include Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Jersey City Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital–New Brunswick and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital–Somerset. Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital–Rahway received new designations.

The honor of being selected as “Healthcare Equality Leaders” is based on the HRC Foundation’s annual health care equality index, which identifies health care institutions that are leaders in efforts to offer equitable care to LGBTQ patients by evaluating inclusive policies and practices related to LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. The index evaluates and scores health care facilities on detailed criteria falling under four central pillars: foundational policies and training in LGBTQ patient-centered care; LGBTQ patient services and support; employee benefits and policies; and patient and community engagement.

“RWJBarnabas Health remains committed to treating everyone with respect and dignity while appreciating and embracing the differences as well as the similarities that exist among us,” said Executive Vice President Trina Parks, RWJBarnabas’ corporate chief diversity and inclusion officer. “We want all patients to feel welcomed and be able to get the care that they need at all stages of their life. We are proud to be leading the way in New Jersey in providing health care services for the LGBTQ community and to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as leaders in LGBTQ health care equality.”

In the 2022 report, only 496 facilities in the country earned HRC’s “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each section and earning an overall score of 100. The 10 RWJBarnabas Health facilities were among only a few hospitals in the state that earned top marks in meeting nondiscrimination and training criteria that demonstrate a commitment to equitable, inclusive and compassionate care for LGBTQ patients and their families, who often face significant challenges in securing the medical care they need and deserve. 

“Every person deserves to have access to quality health care, be respected and heard by their doctor, and feel safe in the facility where they are receiving care. But LGBTQ people are often subject to discrimination in all spaces, including health care facilities, which leads to members of the community avoiding care and anticipating our voices will not be respected in an incredibly vulnerable environment,” said Tari Hanneman, director of health and aging at the Human Rights Campaign. “The health care equality index, at its core, strives to ensure LGBTQ people are protected and affirmed by their health care providers and feel safe seeking services. Our (index’s) active participants are truly pioneering the health care industry by implementing robust, comprehensive LGBTQ inclusive policies that hopefully, because of their work, will become standard practice.”