Henry Ford Health System Recognized For Equality Efforts

Kate Opalewski
By | 2013-08-05T09:00:00-04:00 August 5th, 2013|Michigan, News|


DETROIT – As a leader in LGBT healthcare equality, Henry Ford Health System’s six facilities is one of five Michigan health organization among the 464 healthcare facilities recognized nationwide by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in its Healthcare Equality Index 2013. The other Michigan based health facilities are VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, VA John D. Dingell Medical Center in Detroit, VA Oscar G. Johnson Medical Center, Iron Mountain, and VA Aleda E. Lutz Medical Center in Saginaw.
All the agencies cited “recognize that LGBT people are making vital contributions to the economy while being increasingly open about who they are.” The agencies are committed to providing “equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families,” according to the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index website.
“This recognition is a reflection of our diverse workforce who work together to bring an environment of inclusion to our patients, our co-workers and the communities we serve,” said Anton Chastang, office of corporate diversity program manager at HFHS.
Healthcare organizations awarded this distinction meet key criterion for equitable care, including non-discrimination policies for LGBT patients and employees, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members.
Chastang is a member of the HFHS Diversity Council comprised of leaders from across all business units and of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages and different perspectives.
To assist the system in developing an inclusive corporate culture and an environment where diversity is valued, Employee Resource Groups have been implemented through the council over the years to build positive direct relationships with staff and maximize each employee’s contribution to the mission, vision and values of HFHS.

Employee Network Group

PRIDE was the first Employee Network Group to be established in 2004. In 2010, with approval of the council, PRIDE became the first newly created ERG doing things on a broader basis.
“We act as a patient advocate on LGBT issues. We are a resource for LGBT individuals to connect with others and we promote the hospital to the LGBT community,” said Eric Bacigal, director of employee health, safety and wellness at HFHS.
Other groups include the Amigos (Hispanic/Latino), WIN (Women’s Improvement Network), OPAL (African American Physicians and Research Scientists), GenERG-Y (to leverage multi-generational differences and commonalities), and eMERGe (Middle-Eastern).
“We are extremely thrilled. It is not surprising that we have been recognized. The population knows this is our culture and expects that we’re moving in this direction,” said Bacigal, adding that plans are in the works to partner with the Ruth Ellis Center and also with the HRC to develop employee sensitivity training.
Individuals in the organization who demonstrate a commitment to respecting and honoring diversity and inclusion do not go unnoticed. HFHS has an internal Diversity Hero Program that honors employees and leaders throughout the system. The Ninth Annual Diversity Celebration will take place at the end of November 2013.
“We try to do our best to recognize folks doing some hard, important work,” said Chastang. Throughout HFHS, nominations are submitted based on specific criteria. For example, someone who teaches his or her teammates new information about diversity may be nominated. Or someone who provides customer service above and beyond with respect to diversity and inclusion may be nominated.
Out of more than 50 nominations, around 10 are selected, one from each business unit. “These people embody these characteristics. It’s not just something they do. It’s part of their DNA. They know the importance of doing this,” said Chastang.
Like Bacigal, who is a past recipient of the award. “We are being tested everyday on policies and procedures in place,” said Bacigal. “We are ready and willing to serve.”

About the Author:

Kate Opalewski
Kate Opalewski is BTL's features editor and has been since 2015. She has covered a variety of topics ranging from art, politics and community outreach. Recently, she was honored by the Detroit Police Department LGBT Advisory Board for her work for the local LGBTQIA community.