Dr. Mark P. Leondires is Medical Director and Partner in reproductive endocrinology at Illume Fertility and is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
At Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut, we have always held one priority above all others: respect the patient. Every desire, every need, and every unique point of view. We know each patient has a different story to tell, and we honor that. In fact, we celebrate it. Zero judgement. Immense compassion. At the end of the day, we just want to help you build your dream family and have you feel safe and heard throughout the entire journey.
Because of that commitment to the patient, we have the great honor to say that we are an “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader.”
And we’ve worked really hard to attain this award. RMA of Connecticut is the only freestanding fertility center to be awarded this prestigious designation in the state of Connecticut and in the New England region, as well as being one of two freestanding fertility centers to receive this designation in the nation. This is the 4th year in a row that RMA of Connecticut has received the HEI designation.
What is the “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” Award?
“LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” is a designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the education arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
This year marks the 12th edition of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). A record 765 health care facilities actively participated in the HEI 2020 survey. Of those included in the HEI, 495 earned an “LGBTQ health care Equality Leader” designation.
Every year, HRC recognizes the health care facilities that participate in the HEI for their dedication and commitment to LGBTQ inclusion. HRC also extends its deepest gratitude to these facilities for their courageous fight against COVID-19 and their commitment to addressing racism and injustice. As the final HEI surveys were submitted in March, health care facilities were kicking into overdrive to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Many faced a lack of equipment, staffing shortages and surging demand. Two months later, as the fight against COVID-19 continued, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers thrust America’s structural racism into the spotlight. HEI participants issued strong statements on racial justice and equity, participated in White Coats for Black Lives demonstrations and announced new programs to address racial inequities in their institutions and their communities.
In the 2020 report, an impressive 495 facilities earned HRC’s “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each section and earning an overall score of 100. Another 193 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation for scoring from 80 to 95 points. With 90% of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.
The remarkable progress reflected in the 2020 HEI includes:
92% of participants met the HEI's training requirements, completing more than 150,000 hours of staff training in LGBTQ patient-centered care.
99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their patient non-discrimination policy.
99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their employment nondiscrimination policy.
53% of HEI participants indicated that their facility has a policy or policies that specifically outline procedures and practices aimed at eliminating bias and insensitivity, and ensuring appropriate, welcoming interactions with transgender patients.
After many years of trailing their corporate counterparts in the provision of transgender-inclusive health care benefits for employees, HEI participating healthcare facilities are nearly on par with the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) participants as 80% have at least one health care plan that offered this benefit. The latest CEI noted 85% of participants having such benefits.
In addition to active survey participants, the HRC Foundation proactively researched the key policies at over 1,000 non-participating hospitals. Unfortunately, the adoption rate at these researched hospitals stands in stark contrast to the near-perfect adoption by active participants. Among the researched hospitals in which we were able to find or obtain enumerated patient non-discrimination policies, only 67% have policies that include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and only 63% were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. The equal visitation policy, at 93%, is the only one that comes close to matching the rate of the participating facilities.
The Healthcare Equality Index: Why RMA of Connecticut Made the Cut
“For years the LGBTQ community has struggled against inequality in healthcare. Here at RMA of Connecticut and Gay Parents To Be, we are proud to make inclusive, patient-centered care a priority, and to have been chosen as a Top Performer in Healthcare Equality for the fourth year in a row,” says Dr. Mark P. Leondires, Medical Director of RMA of Connecticut, and founder of Gay Parents To Be. “Our team is committed to inclusion and equity for anyone who wants to build the family of their dreams, or utilize any of our services.”
“From the previously unimaginable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the horrific incidents of racial violence targeting the Black community, the events of the past year have brought about so much pain and uncertainty. Yet, even during this moment of profound unrest, we are seeing more of our humanity and resilience come to life. For me, nowhere is that more true than through the tireless dedication of our health care providers and the intrepid support and administrative staff members by their sides that show up every day to ensure this life-saving work continues,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “The health care facilities participating in the HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) are not only on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also making it clear from their participation in the HEI that they stand on the side of fairness and are committed to providing inclusive care to their LGBTQ patients. In addition, many have made strong statements on racial justice and equity and are engaging in efforts to address racial inequities in their institutions and their communities. We commend all of the HEI participants for their commitment to providing inclusive care for all.”
We are humbled through the awarding process but also reminded of our hard work and commitment to patient. We strive to be the best providers, partners, and friends for patients during the family building journey, because many of us have been there ourselves, all coming from different backgrounds and orientations. No matter the changing landscape of our world, basic human respect is a priority for us today and forever into the future.
Our Medical Director shares what it means to receive this recognition and how to tell if your practice is LGBTQ inclusive.