UNM Hospitals has been declared one of the 496 leaders in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, in its 2016 Healthcare Equality Index.

UNMH was recognized as a leader in LGBTQ equality for the fourth consecutive year.

The organization recognized UNMH for meeting non-discrimination and training criteria and showing commitment to “equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients, and their families,” according to a statement.

Alma Rosa Silva-Banuelos, director of the UNM LGBTQ Resource Center, said the center played a part in UNMHS being honored. She said that the center, along with the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, has been providing trainings for UNMH employees on servicing and care for the LGBTQ community.

The trainings are attended by doctors, nurses, directors of different units and emergency room staff.

“What is really beautiful and impactful is that this training is a volunteer training and people can self-select this training,” Silva-Banuelos said. “The majority of the participants have had a profound experience in their base knowledge increase about LGBTQ issues and they will take their knowledge back to their units where they have been improving care for LGBTQ patients.”

She said the hospital is integrating LGBT as a protected class in its policy. The LGBTQ Resource Center also provides safe zone trainings for UNMH.

Adrien Lawyer, co-director and co-founder of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, said UNMH is sincerely trying to improve service delivery and medical care to LGBTQ people in the state.

“I think they have a long way to go like most of the hospitals in the country right now, but I believe that they are really making sincere efforts and things have improved there,” he said.

He said that UNM LGBTQ Resource Center and the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico are currently providing cultural competency training on LQBT people and health care.

“Generally we have between 10 to 30 people attending the classes. We get really good evaluations back from them. However, it’s a long road that we are on,” he said.

He said that he thought that there was a need to do “lots and lots of more education.”

Additionally, Lawyer said he would like to see other hospital systems make the same investment in putting their staff through these types of trainings.

“We have got to do a lot of education and then a lot of other work to make it better for transgender people. We have to change the way we do documentation. There are fields in the databases that need to be changed in order to track transgender people appropriately. The way we do patient intake needs to be changed,” he said.

He said that transgender people are still experiencing abuses in clinical setups and they are being refused health care.

“It is not just education but putting education in to practice,” Lawyer said.

Sayyed Shah is the assistant news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at assistant-news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter@mianfawadshah.