In the next series of posts under the Missouri Case Study, we will walk through the approaches we have taken on engaging hospitals on the review of their LGBT welcoming policies. This process has been a collaborative effort that has brought to the table several key local LGBT health leaders along with the technical expertise of Dr. Scout. Knowing that this policy project was unique to the state of Missouri made us feel like we were wading in the uncharted territories of LGBT health policy -- scary at first, but always with the attitude,“if first you don’t succeed; try, try, try, again.”
Going into this year, the work of the Missouri LGBT Health Policy project developed by former Manager of Public Policy, Tracy McCreery, focused on outreaching to and educating hospitals on their LGBT welcoming policies. Knowing that only two hospitals in Missouri were identified by the Human Rights Campaign's Healthcare Equality Index 2013 as 'leaders’ in LGBT Health, we set out to increase the number of hospitals who have LGBT welcoming policies.
Our initial strategy with hospitals was to develop relationships with representatives from key local hospitals, who could be a voice and conduit for us on matters relating to LGBT welcoming policies. Even though we were actively engaged in one-on-one conversations with certain hospitals, we were encountering problems that made it difficult to create momentum we needed for positive policy changes to happen. The lessons we learned from this approach included:
- Taking a whole lot of time - Conducting one-on-one meetings can be a time consuming endeavor, particularly with hospital officials who are constantly being bombarded by reviews from external sources.
- Finding the ‘right’ person is always a challenge with a hospital, but is crucial to our projects success. Our one-on-one strategy produced several dead ends in our quest to finding the hospital employee that could make positive policy changes happen.
- Lacked a sense of urgency - The one-on-one strategy was great for relationship building, but made it difficult to apply a sense of urgency on hospitals for reviewing their LGBT welcoming policies.
Knowing the challenges we faced from our initial one-on-one strategy and given the landscape of Missouri’s hospitals who identified as ‘leaders’ in LGBT health, we changed gears and implemented a targeted blanket strategy. This blanket approach included outreach to Missouri’s top 20 hospitals through a series of targeted letters and reports that highlighted where the hospital stood on their LGBT welcoming policies. The early success of this strategy was reported in our last Missouri Case Study 4: Nudging Missouri hospitals on LGBT welcoming policies. Stay tuned for our next Missouri Case Study when we reveal the secret to our outreach letter and report!