UVM Medical Center

UVM Medical Center Named Healthcare Equality High Performer

Human Rights Campaign’s 2024 Healthcare Equality Index evaluates health care organizations’ policies and practices related to patients, visitors and employees

UVM Medical Center DEI team holding Healthcare Equality Index award

Burlington, Vt. – Inclusive health care practices – from building a focus on diversity with its Patient-Family Advocacy team, to promoting inclusivity through patient electronic health record practices and data collection procedures – have earned UVM Medical Center national recognition for its commitment to advancing health equity in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) community.

The Human Rights Campaign named UVM Medical Center a health care equality high performer in its 2024 HealthCare Equality Index (HEI) –  an annual survey which measures a variety of criteria to determine how inclusive a health care organization or facility is – from nondiscrimination policies and staff training programs, to patient services and support, patient and community engagement, and employee benefits.

“We are committed to creating an environment that reflects the diversity of UVM Medical Center and ensure every patient across our region receives exemplary care in an environment of compassion, trust and safety,” said Marissa Coleman, PsyD, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UVM Medical Center. “Patient-centered care and health equity go hand-in-hand. Reducing health disparities is central to the work we do each day, and surveys like the HEI are important tools that help us evaluate ourselves and continue to improve.”

UVM Medical Center is one of 462 health care facilities nationwide to earn the ‘high performer’ designation in 2024, according to the Human Rights Campaign. A record 1,065 facilities participated in this year’s survey.

In addition to its work focused on Patient-Family Advocacy, affirming patient data collection, UVM Medical Center’s efforts to make health care more diverse, equitable and inclusive also include community partnerships with medical students and the Pride Center of Vermont, actively exploring how to make employee benefits more inclusive of gender-affirming care needs, collaborations with Epic to further embed lived names in its unified electronic medical record, and publishing a cultural resource guide aimed at infusing cultural humility into the care provided to all patients.

A roundup of health equity work underway across UVM Health Network is available in the health system’s 2023 DEI Impact Report.

Stephen Leffler, MD, President of UVM Medical Center, called the designation a testament to the hard and ongoing work of UVM Medical Center’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department. 

“Being recognized as an organization that takes inclusion and equity seriously speaks to the quality of care we aim to provide at UVM Medical Center,” said Dr. Leffler. “Our team cares deeply about the patients and communities we serve. Every person deserves access to quality health care, to be respected and heard by their health care provider, and to feel safe and seen when they are in our care. I’m proud of the work our organization continues to do creating a culture of belonging for our patients, visitors and employees.”

Kelly Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign, called the Index a critical tool for patients seeking equitable care.

“The Healthcare Equality Index is helping people find facilities where welcoming policies and practices are the standard,” she said. “We know that LGBTQ+ people – especially our trans family – continue to face discrimination in the doctor’s office. No one should have to put their health on the backburner for fear of mistreatment in a healthcare facility or by their doctor.”