The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay political group, today released its annual Healthcare Equality Index. Two Atlanta hospitals were among the 178 facilities rated on policies affecting LGBT patients and staff.

Atlanta hospitals rated on gay and transgender ‘healthcare equality’

Emory University Hospital received credit for having an equal employment opportunity policy that includes sexual orientation.

Piedmont Hospital received credit for having a gay-inclusive Equal Employment policy, as well as visitation policies that give same-sex couples the same access as opposite-sex couples and next of kin, visitation polices that give same-sex partners the same visitation for their minor children as opposite-sex partners, and cultural competency training that includes healthcare issues that impact LGBT people.

It is not included in the survey, but Piedmont Hospital has also partnered with the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative to provide free health screenings.

According to the Healthcare Equality Index, neither Atlanta hospital offered a patients’ bill of rights that includes sexual orientation or gender identity, or an equal employment policy that include gender identity.

Nationwide, some 42 facilities answered “yes” to all of the gay and transgender-inclusive policies. That includes the Kaiser Permanente Network, which includes several locations in Georgia, although none are listed individually in the index.

Kaiser Permanente updated its patients’ bill of rights to include LGBT patients and their families, with the new policies taking effect today, according to HRC.

The new policies make Kaiser Permanente the first health network, as opposed to an independent hospital, to earn HRC’s “top performer” status, the group notes.

“The healthcare landscape for LGBT patients and their families is about to change dramatically,” Joe Solmonese, president of the HRC Foundation, said in a press release announcing the index.

“We all know horror stories of loved ones torn apart, already heart-wrenching decisions made even harder, and basic human rights denied. Bold action by the president and the Joint Commission mean many of those stories will be a thing of the past – and not a moment too soon, because as of right now huge challenges remain on the books.”

In April, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum directing the Department of Health & Human Services to create policies requiring all hospitals that receive federal funding through programs like Medicare and Medicaid to treat LGBT people fairly in visitation and other services.

Obama’s memorandum was prompted by the story of a Miami hospital that forced a lesbian to die alone while her partner and their children waited in the hospital, but were not allowed to visit her.

In addition, HRC reports, “the Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies healthcare facilities, has announced new, fully inclusive patient non-discrimination standards as part of their accreditation process.

“Together, these developments mean that LGBT healthcare equality is going to improve nationwide, in towns big and small, from New York to Mississippi to Utah to San Francisco.”