Civil Rights Groups and Ball Memorial Leadership in Consultation to Build New Future
August 6, 2010, Muncie, Indiana — Indiana resident Erin Vaught’s advocacy and strength are paving the way for a new future for competent and accessible health care for Transgender Hoosiers. After a harrowing experience in the Emergency Department of Muncie’s Ball Memorial Hospital on July 18th, Ms. Vaught reached out to the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) and Indiana Equality (IE) for help in making sure that she, her family, and her community would never face barriers to health care at Ball Memorial again. In response, Ball Memorial’s management team has identified an aggressive plan to improve services to all patients, including LGBT patients and their families.
“My family and I are overwhelmed by the positive support we’ve received online and in person from individuals, blogs, and advocacy groups,” said Erin Vaught. “I never expected that so many people cared so deeply about my wellbeing and about adequate health care for the transgender community. I am excited to be working with INTRAA, IE, and Ball Memorial management to address what happened to me and to improve health care services for everyone in the Muncie area. My fondest wish is that this tragedy leads to better health care and deeper understanding.”
Working in collaboration with Erin, INTRAA and IE are engaged in ongoing discussions with key leaders at Ball Memorial, a Clarian Health facility, to respond both to the specific barriers Erin and her family faced and to traditional barriers to care faced by LGBT patients.
“Erin and her family are role models for turning a horrific experience of discrimination into lasting, positive improvements in the delivery of health care,” said INTRAA President Vivian Benge. “Her advocacy and the support she has received from around the country are poised to result in significant improvements in Ball Memorial’s delivery of care. Having spoken with Ball Memorial’s President and CEO, Michael Haley, I am optimistic that we will have a strong partner moving forward in improving health care access for Hoosiers in East Central Indiana.”
Mr. Haley and his team have already discussed making immediate changes in non-discrimination policies and practices, instituting trainings for all staff on best practices in serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients, ensuring inclusion of LGBT issues in the hospital’s long-term diversity plans, exploring changes to internal systems and policies that create unintentional barriers to care for LGBT patients, and identifying training for Ball Memorial physicians on medical issues specific to transition related care.
“I am impressed by Mr. Haley’s proactive response to this crisis. His team’s willingness to focus on action and to learn and incorporate new information into their policies and training efforts is a great first step,” stated Jon Keep, Indiana Equality’s President. “Particularly important is Mr. Haley’s insistence that any solutions be based on best practices from around the country and that Erin, INTRAA, and IE have a place at the table in planning and monitoring implementation of these solutions. IE and INTRAA are committed to using Erin’s tragic experience to foster real change for LGBT patients in Muncie and around the state.”
INTRAA and IE will keep the community updated on advancements in these efforts. Both groups will make periodic updates available via their websites and IE’s blog (http://indianaequality.typepad.com/) and FaceBook page. In respect for her family’s privacy and wellbeing, Erin has asked INTRAA and IE to respond to media inquiries about this work going forward.
The Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) is a statewide advocacy organization working to create a society that values and protects freedom of gender expression and the right to gender self-determination for all. For more information about INTRAA, visit the organization’s website at intraa.org.
Organized in 2003, Indiana Equality’s mission is to end sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in Indiana. For more information about Indiana Equality, visit the organization’s website at www.indianaequality.org or call (888) 567-0750.
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Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. That ripple builds others. Those ripples—crossing each other from a million different centers of energy—build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice.
–Senator Robert F. Kennedy, 1966
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