Presented on behalf of the National Diversity Council, the award recognizes Dr. Chittalia’s leadership and commitment to providing inclusive and respectful quality care to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The award honors those who are taking action to effect inclusion and building better relationships with LGBT patients in medicine as well as inclusion of LGBT colleagues in the workplace.
At Geisinger, Dr. Chittalia leads efforts in unifying patients’ and members’ sexual orientation and gender identity with Geisinger’s electronic health record (EHR). Having this information in a patient’s electronic health record helps to provide the most appropriate care and guides physicians and staff in addressing patients correctly.
“I’m part of a very committed and motivated team at Geisinger who have inspired me to drive this initiative,” Dr. Chittalia said. “At Geisinger we are committed to taking care of all our patients with respect and dignity. Up to 15 percent of the United States population identify themselves as LGBTQ, and there is significant disparity in the health care that is provided to this community. Geisinger wants to ensure that we understand our patients well so we can take better care of their health care needs.”
Dr. Chittalia’s work included designing an inclusive care EHR, comprised of having a patient’s preferred name, preferred pronoun, gender identify, sex observed at birth, and family inclusive values. Having this information available to clinicians and care teams supports health maintenance and clinical decision making.
“We want all our patients to feel welcomed, accepted, understood and safe, and we want our staff to be culturally aware and medically knowledgeable,” Dr. Chittalia said. “Sexual orientation is an important part of the medical history because it can have implications on health. Many patients identify themselves different from their birth sex or sex on their government identification, so it is important to ask these questions. Patients aren’t required to answer the questions if they feel uncomfortable doing so.”
Geisinger continues to enhance efforts to make health care more inclusive and address diversity in the workplace. Geisinger’s G-PRIDE (Geisinger – People Ready for Inclusion, Diversity and Equality) employee resource group is a source of support for LGBTQ employees that also works to educate and enhance understanding surrounding LGBTQ issues. In 2019, seven Geisinger hospitals were recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Healthcare Equality Index as Leader facilities for LGBTQ health.
One of the nation’s most innovative health services organizations, Geisinger serves more than 1.5 million patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The system includes 13 hospital campuses, a nearly 600,000-member health plan, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. A physician-led organization, with approximately 32,000 employees and more than 1,800 employed physicians, Geisinger leverages an estimated $12.7 billion positive annual impact on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey economies. Repeatedly recognized nationally for integration, quality and service, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to patient care, medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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