Public Communications Inc.
(312) 558-1770, ext. 155
Public Communications Inc.
(312) 558-1770, ext.139
CHICAGO (September 8, 2011) – A strong advocate for quality and equality in healthcare, Howard Brown Health Center commended the latest steps by federal agencies to enforce rules that protect the right of hospital patients, including same-sex couples, to choose their own visitors in hospitals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance to support enforcement of the rules this week. Finalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the rules apply to all hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid.
The new guidance establishes a patient’s right to designate the person of their choice, including a same-sex partner, to make medical decisions on their behalf if they should become unable to do so.
“It’s a significant milestone in the developing story of equal rights for LGBTQ people, which includes equal access and equal treatment in all aspects of healthcare. We applaud Medicare and the entire Department of Health and Human Services for their successful efforts and commitment to protect the rights of patients in our community,” said Jamal M. Edwards, Howard Brown Health Center President and CEO.
The rules updated the Conditions of Participations (CoPs), which are the health and safety standards all Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals and critical access hospitals must meet, and apply to all patients of those hospitals even if they are not on Medicare and Medicaid. The CoPs require hospitals to inform all patients their right to choose their visitors during their stay, regardless of their relationship as well as their right to withdraw such consent to visitation at any time.
HHS also updated the guidance to emphasize that hospitals should defer to the patients’ wishes to designate their representatives for medical decisions, whether in writing, orally or through other evidence, unless prohibited by state law.
“Howard Brown Health Center is committed to providing quality, patient-centered healthcare to meet the needs of all LGBTQ people and the people who love and support them. Having a patient’s loved ones close, and treating them with the respect they deserve, during a time of need is just another example of good healthcare that we practice – and we believe every other healthcare provider should as well,” said Dr. Magda Houlberg, HBHC’s Vice President of Clinical Services.
In addition to culturally competent, compassionate care, HBHC is working to continue serving the healthcare needs of those who need it most through the Lifeline Fund –a fund to improve and expand access to HBHC’s excellent primary care and specialty services for patients who are unable to pay for their care. When patients are experiencing financial hardship, gifts to the Lifeline Fund will be used to help cover the nominal sliding scale fees that each patient must pay under federal guidelines.
Through the Lifeline Fund, HBHC’s goal is to raise $1 million to provide Charity Care for thousands of patients in need. Whether a gift of $5,000 or $5, every donation to the Lifeline Fund makes a difference and will enable HBHC to save lives. For more information about the Lifeline Fund or to donate today, please visit www.howardbrown.org. For more information on the CMS rules issued in November, please visit: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/11/20101117a.html .
# # #
About Howard Brown Health Center
Founded in 1974, Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) is one of the nation's largest health care and research organizations, primarily serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and its allies. With an annual budget of approximately $18 million, it is the largest such organization in the Midwest and serves more than 36,000 adults and youth each year throughout the region. As an innovative and growing patient-centered health home, HBHC provides primary medical care, behavioral health services, and specialty chronic and infectious disease services, and conducts nationally-renowned clinical and behavioral research. Its nearly 200 staff deliver culturally competent and compassionate care in a supportive environment that also includes comprehensive health, wellness and social service programs that enable and expand access to care for all LGBT men, women, youth and seniors, and their friends and families. HBHC is a multi-site operation based in Chicago and includes a main health and research center in the Uptown neighborhood, the TRIAD Health practice at Illinois Masonic Medical Center, and the Broadway Youth Center. HBHC also operates the Brown Elephant Resale Shops, which include three resale shops in Chicago's Wrigleyville/Boystown and Andersonville neighborhoods, and in Oak Park. The proceeds from the Brown Elephant help HBHC provide services to those who are un/underinsured