At the beginning of February 2015, LGBT advocates in Missouri began reviewing our second list of hospitals on their LGBT welcoming policies. Having successfully accomplished several LGBT policy victories during our first round of outreach, we began to tackle a new beast -- rural Missouri.
Choosing 10 hospitals throughout the Mid-MO and Southeast Missouri region, we began our review. Reviewing rural hospital policies as an outsider can be difficult. Our researchers, however, presented themselves as regular patients that really only had one connection publicly* with these hospitals -- their website. Herein lies several challenges to this research. Difficulties in the regular maintenance of a hospital's website, problems with the lack of hospital organizational structure to allow for maintenance, and the years of slowly decreasing revenue adding to the lack of structure; could lead to possible inaccuracies from the data collected during the reviewing process. We, however, have not experienced any hospitals who have challenged our review.
How did we begin to review a rural hospitals website?
1. Identify hospitals main website - for most rural hospitals this could be the website that their System had set-up, make sure to check both. If the hospital’s website links to the System network, then make sure to check the System website for their LGBT welcoming policies.
2. Use search engine to identify key terms used by LGBT patients – this includes searching for terms such as “discrimination”, “sexual orientation”, “gender identity”, “visitation”, “patient rights”.
3. Document and log policy research – in order to create the individualized reports, while also maintaining for your records whether policies do or do not exist before beginning our outreach.
Upon reviewing each hospital website, we concluded our findings and began to work on outreaching to those hospitals in hopes of sparking their interest into a review of their policies. Next Missouri case study, find out the strategy used in outreaching to rural hospitals to spark their interest in LGBT welcoming policies.