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Renown Regional Named Health Equity Leader for Nevada

April 12, 2022

Recognized as national leader in LGBTQ+ care by Human Rights Campaign Foundation for 2022

All people who need medical care should be able to see their doctor or have a hospital visit without worrying about being mistreated, harassed or denied service outright. Data from the national CAP survey shows that LGBTQ+ people experience discrimination in healthcare settings; and that discourages them from seeking needed care. These results highlight the importance of protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in healthcare. Renown Health and UNR Med caregivers, supported by community LGBTQ+ and Transgender Allies and partners, are working to bridge the gap for LGBTQ+ patients and families, and to become a more inclusive organization.

This week, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation recognized Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev. as the first and only hospital in Nevada designated with a perfect score, and at the highest level of support as “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader.” The Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) is the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey of healthcare facilities on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees.

We constantly strive to be among the best in the nation for quality, safety and patient experience," said Dr. Thomas Graf, interim CEO and Chief Clinical and Quality Officer. "This recognition confirms what the Renown Health team is dedicated to – providing the best patient care possible. Quality and safety are the responsibility of every employee and physician at Renown, and we are proud that the Renown Regional Medical Center team has been chosen among the best in the state and nation for our commitment to LGBTQ+ patient-centered care.”

“Renown Health is proud to join the state of Nevada, which also earned top rankings on the Human Rights Campaign State Equality Index, and the City of Reno on the Municipal Equity Scorecard for LGBTQ+ equality,” said Sy Johnson, MBA, interim president and Chief of Staff. “The Human Rights Campaign HEI offers a powerful way for organizations to affirm that they are committed to LGBTQ+ patient-centered care and extend non-discrimination protections to our LGBTQ+ employees, who play a key role in ensuring sensitive, knowledgeable LGBTQ+ care.”

“We at UNR Med are so proud to be partners with Renown in this effort,” said Nicole Jacobs, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)Associate Dean, Diversity and Inclusion; Clinical Psychologist / Professor; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UNR Med. “The designation of being an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equity Leader demonstrates Renown’s strong commitment to advancing equitable healthcare in Nevada, our core and shared values and our shared mission of addressing the healthcare disparities in our backyards.”

A record 906 healthcare facilities actively participated in the 2022 HEI survey and 496 of those earned an “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Equality Leader” designation. Renown Regional Medical Center is the first and only hospital in Nevada recognized by the Human Rights Campaign. No other hospitals in the state met their stringent standards for the 2021 rankings.

“Every person deserves to have access to quality healthcare, be respected and heard by their doctor and feel safe in the facility where they are receiving care,” said Tari Hanneman, (she/her) Director of Health & Aging at The Human Rights Campaign. “The Healthcare Equality Index, at its core, strives to ensure LGBTQ+ people are protected and affirmed by their healthcare providers and feel safe seeking services. Our HEI active participants are truly pioneering the healthcare industry by implementing robust, comprehensive LGBTQ+ inclusive policies that hopefully, because of their work, will become standard practice

The HEI evaluates and scores healthcare 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
  • Patient and Community Engagement

Suzanne Hendery, MA, APR, Chief Customer Officer, who led Renown’s application process, noted the remarkable progress reflected in the team 2022 HEI submission includes:

  • Updated Medical Records with Preferred Name and Pronouns. Kathleen Zaski, BSN, RN, Director of IT Applications explains why this is so important. “Your name and identity are core to who you are as a person, and here at Renown, we aim to take care of you as a whole person and to provide the highest level of quality care to our community – all while ensuring the experience is exceptional and tailored to the individual. Our medical records system supports our doctors, nurses and care team in capturing this vital information. We are now able to capture every person’s preferred name, sex and sexual orientation to better care for them.”
  • Allowing visitation without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. Whitney Hansen, PhD, Director of Service Excellence says, “I know how important it is to our patients and their families that Renown serves our entire community and that we provide a welcoming, safe space and sense of belonging to all. We are proud of Renown’s visitor policy, inspired by family members, who requested that the policy encourage two family members per day be able to visit a loved one hospitalized at Renown.”
  • Gender Neutral Restrooms. Chris Baker, CHFM, Director Facilities Engineering, whose team has created over 48 gender-neutral restrooms across Renown says, “Ensuring that private restrooms are equally available to everyone on our campus is just one way we can provide a more inclusive, caring space for the people we serve.”

In addition, Renown clinicians and caregivers received recognition in the following areas:

  • Every staff member receives training in LGBTQ+ patient-centered care
  • Both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are included in both the patient non-discrimination policy and in Renown’s employment nondiscrimination policy
  • Offering transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits to employees and members of Renown’s not-for-profit health plan, Hometown Health
  • Providing substantial support and awarding grants to area organizations addressing diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ+ community Pride events and collaboration with LGBTQ+ organizations as an ally

“I’m extremely proud of the people I get to work with every day who make achievements like this possible, says Brian Colonna CHC, CHPC, CHRC, Director of Compliance. “This is a meaningful designation, said Bethany Sexton, MA, Chief Transformation Officer. “I feel so proud to be part of a team and organization that helps translate our mission as an organization into action that matters for every member of our community.”

Mitch Harper, Director of Network Performance, said, “We have just begun on this journey. We recognize there is still so much more to improve upon in becoming an inclusive organization. We are working to create a safe and welcoming environment for our community and our employees. Access to basic human services should not be contingent on an individual’s skin color, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or beliefs.”

Sean Savoy, Manager of Spiritual Care at Renown said, “Good news indeed! So glad that Renown Health has achieved this milestone with HRC – a leader in civil rights for sexual orientation-gender identity minorities. I look forward to the continuing work around striving to achieve clinical equity, cultural competency, and respect for our LGBTQIA patients and employees.”

For more on LBGTQ+ care and providers at Renown, visit renown.org/diversity/lbgtq-at-renown/

Join the Renown team Renown Health is now hiring key roles in our organization to support the health and well-being of our community. To join the Renown family to Fight the Good Fight, apply on line at careers.renown.org/


About the Human Rights Campaign Foundation

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.

About Renown Health

Renown Health is the region’s largest, locally governed, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. With a diverse workforce of more than 7,000 employees, Renown has fostered a longstanding culture of excellence, determination and innovation. The organization comprises a trauma center, two acute care hospitals, a children’s hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, a medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest, locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown is currently enrolling participants in the world’s largest community-based genetic population health study, the Healthy Nevada Project®. For more information, visit renown.org.

Media Contact

Renown Public Relations

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