Rainbow flags fly higher

Rainbow flags

Rainbow flags fly higher in June as Pride Month is celebrated annually across the country.

The red, orange, yellow, blue, green and violet colors forming that symbolic message are also woven into the organizational fabric atWellSpanHealth. The heath-care provider consistently upholds equal treatment toward applicants and employees as well as care for the LGBTQ+ community it serves.

Protecting the rights of the LGBTQ+community isn’t only a professional commitment for Kim Brister. It has personal meaningto heras well.

“I have severalintermediatefamily members who are part of the LGBTQ+ community,” she said. “I want them to be able to receive the services they need within our network of providers.”

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Brister isWellSpanHealth’s senior director of talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion.

“Professionally,I firmly believe that the true essence of diversity includes a tapestry of unique dimensions that strengthens our organization. The LGBTQ+ community is one of those uniqueand important dimensions.”

Pride month: A year-round focus

Pride Month iscelebrated for one month. It is a year-round focus forBrister, however; she leads an initiative thatweaves sexual orientation and gender identity into the fabric of the organization.

Monday’slandmark Supreme Court decisionmadeit illegalfor workplacediscriminationagainst people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The court found that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects the LGBTQ+community.

“This is great newsand a huge victoryfor the LGBTQ+ community,”Bristersaid.

The Supreme Court decision could shake up business practices across the United States. Bristersaidit won’t change anything forWellSpan, however.That’s because the health organizationalready follows the practice of being an Equal Opportunity Employer, including consistent and equal treatment of members of the LGBTQ+ community.HR Policy E-10 Employment – Legal Requirements and Considerations includesthe following language:

“WellSpanHealth is an Equal Opportunity Employer.It is the policy and intention of the System to maintain consistent and equal treatment toward applicants and employees of all job classifications without regard to age, sex, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, culture, language, veteran status, disability, or any other legally protected characteristic.”

WellSpan’slong-term strategyisto build an engaged, diverse and inclusive workforce of the best and brightestpeople.It was a big reason whyWellSpandedicated a leadership position whichBristerassumed last year.

In addition to maintaining a diverse workforce,WellSpanhas convened a group of professionals to review and coordinatehealthcare fortheLGBTQ+ community.The group’s mission is to review current practices and identify opportunities to improve the way thatWellSpanshares services and provides care to the community.

Respect for all

“One of our core values is‘Respect for All’combined withourmission of‘Working asOne’to improve health through exceptional care for all,” Brister said. “(It) helpsto create the framework of the importance of ensuringthatwe are able to provide equitable and culturally competent care for our LGBTQ+ community.”

The LGBTQ+ Steering Committee is currently working on developing resources, educational tools and the ability to make it easier formembers ofLGBTQ+ communities to find the services they need withintheWellSpannetwork.

“We are relentless in evaluating our current state and discovering better ways to provide the services that are needed,”Bristersaid.“I wantWellSpanto be a provider of choice for our LGBTQ+ community and I want there to be an ease of use when searching for services.”

One of those tasked with creating more health care avenues for theLGBTQ+ communityis Douglas McCracken, MD, a family medicine physician with theWellSpanMedical Group.

Expanding access

McCracken has focused on expanding access to LGBTQ+ health care, including transgender hormone prescribing and other services atWellSpan.

He saidWellSpanhas putaparticular focuson transgender care offerings by increasing provision of hormone therapy, coordinated with surgical and behavioral health services, and through residency training programs.

McCracken also referenced the 2018 Pennsylvania LGBT Health Needs Assessment. That study highlightedsmoking, mental health and obesity/chronic diseases asthe most significant health concernsacross the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

WellSpanalsocollaborates with Family First Health in the Caring Together program. That program offers HIV care in Yorkas well asPreP(HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis) and STD screening, to promote health in at-risk populations.

“We continue to engage with community partners and our primary care practices to meet these needs,” McCracken said.

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