Ball Memorial Hospital recognized for LGBT healthcare
Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital has been named a "Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by The Human Rights Campaign Foundation for three consecutive years despite a 2010 lawsuit against the hospital involving a transgender person being called "he-she" and "it."
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation works to improve lives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population, according to hrc.org.
The HRC foundation has an annual survey named the Healthcare Equality Index, which prides itself on “promoting equitable and inclusive care for [LGBT] patients and their families,” according to the HEI. The HEI is evaluated by four core criteria: patient non-discrimination policies, visitation policies, employment non-discrimination policies and training in LGBT Patient-centered care.
"We are proud to be named and recognized as a leader in LGBT healthcare equality,” said Ann McGuire, president of Ball Memorial Human Resources, in a media release. “The team members of IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital work tirelessly to continue to put our patients first every day.”
The 426 healthcare facilities across the country who were recognized “meet key criteria, including patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members,” according to the Ball Memorial media release.
Ball Memorial Hospital was forced to take a second glance at their treatment after Erin Vaught, a transgender woman, filed a lawsuit against the hospital after she said she was called a “he-she” and a “it” and was refused treatment because of her condition in July 2010, according to a 2011 Associated Press article. The lawsuit led to an internal review.
Leo Caldwell, Ball State alumnus, is a transexual man who started his transition at the Ball State University Student Health Center. He said the lawsuit led to important changes including training for the hospital's staff.
"I was not surprised when that [lawsuit] came out," Caldwell said. "I think it sucks but that had to happen because we have sensitivity training."
According to a Gallup, a public opinion research institution, 3.4 percent of Americans identify as LGBT, which is about 10.7 million people.
Caldwell said the issue matters because it isn’t just about medical professionals not knowing how to be sensitive toward people who identify as LGBT; some of these doctors don’t even know what to do. Caldwell ran into this problem when he needed emergency treatment at a hospital in Hancock County.
“I kept explaining what trans was and they didn’t get it,” Caldwell said. “When they started putting the little pads on [my chest] they saw my scars from my chest surgery. They were like, ‘Did you have heart surgery?’ And I had to explain [trans] again.
“This is kind of scary, right?" he said. "I mean, you’re there because you want to be treated and they’re so ignorant to what’s going on.”
Caldwell said he is terrified of walking into a gynecological office to get a pap smear.
“[During my undergrad], we decided to call around to different ob-gyn places and ask for a pap smear for a trans man,” Caldwell said. “I would say that I’m on hormones, I look like a man, but I still have a vagina. And they were literally like, ‘We don’t want to get in the middle of that.’”