Human Rights Campaign calls greater Los Angeles, Long Beach-area medical centers leaders in LGBTQ healthcare equality


St. Mary Medical Center is among three greater Long Beach hospitals that have been recognized as leaders in LGBTQ healthcare equality by the Human Rights Campaign. Photo: St. Mary Medical Center.

LONG BEACH — Three Long Beach-area hospitals have been recognized as leaders in LGBTQ healthcare equality by one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy groups.

Kaiser Permanente’s South Bay and Downey medical centers, which serve Harbor City, the South Bay, Long Beach, Downey and Signal Hill, and Long Beach’s St. Mary Medical Center received the acknowledgement from the Human Rights Campaign in its Healthcare Equality Index 2017. The survey evaluates inclusive policies and practices related to LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. All 38 Kaiser Permanente facilities in California received the recognition.


These medical facilities were the only three in the greater Long Beach and South Bay areas to be recognized by HRC, but that doesn’t mean other medical centers don’t have similar practices and policies. HRC only sends the survey to select medical providers; it’s not a comprehensive approach.

“One of Kaiser Permanente’s core values is that everyone deserves to be happy and healthy,” Lesley Wille, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center, said in a statement. “We are continuously learning and improving so that all of our members receive culturally responsive, respectful care.”

Ace Robinson, executive director of St. Mary Medical Center’s C.A.R.E. Program — the region’s largest and most comprehensive HIV and AIDS treatment program — appreciated the recognition.

“Diversity is core to the way that I choose to live my life,” Robinson said in a press release. “That is what drew me to Long Beach and at St. Mary Medical Center to work at the C.A.R.E. Program.”


Ranking medical centers on their LGBTQ sensitivity is significant because health disparities in the community prevent people from having access to healthcare. For example, the 2010 Lambda Legal survey “When Health Care Isn’t Caring,”  found some troubling findings:

  • 73 percent of transgender respondents and 29 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents believed they would be treated differently by medical personnel because they are LGBT
  • 52 percent of transgender respondents and 9 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents reported believed they would be refused medical services because they are LGBT.
  • 70 percent of transgender and almost 56 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual respondents said they had been discriminated against at least one by healthcare providers.

The three medical centers received a perfect score of 100.


The survey includes 300 healthcare providers nationwide, including facilities in Baldwin Park, Fontana, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, 

The recognized facilities were awarded scores for implementing LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices in four areas:

  • LGBTQ patient-centered care,
  • LGBTQ patient services and support,
  • LGBTQ patient and community engagement
  • Fully-inclusive employee benefits and policies

In 2010, Kaiser Permanente was the first health care provider and hospital system that HRC designated as a leader in LGBTQ healthcare equality.


About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!