UI Health Care recognized nationally for LGBTQ+ health care equality

Katherine L. Imborek, MD and Nicole Nisly, MD
Katie Imborek, MD, (left) is pictured with CC Thalken and Nicole Nisly, MD, in the LGBTQ Clinic. This photo was taken in summer 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

University of Iowa Health Care has been named an “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Top Performer” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, part of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. 

The designation was announced in the 2022 Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), the HRC Foundation’s annual evaluation of the policies and practices health care facilities devote to equitable treatment and inclusion of LGBTQ+ patients, visitors, and employees. 

“University of Iowa Health Care is committed to striving toward providing welcoming and affirming care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning patients,” says Denise Martinez, MD, interim associate vice president for health parity with UI Health Care. “The HEI has proven to be a valuable resource that has highlighted opportunities for further improvements and provided best practices from organizations across the country. This recognition is important for current and prospective patients, students, faculty, and staff.”  

UI Health Care is among 251 health care systems nationally to earn this status. A record 906 facilities participated in this year’s survey.  

Among efforts to make UI Health Care more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, the LGBTQ Clinic provides full-service health care to adults and adolescents from the LGBTQ+ communities. The clinic—the first of its kind in Iowa—serves between 13,000 and 15,000 people. Every member of the clinic’s staff has received LGBTQ-specific cultural humility training to ensure a welcoming and affirming health care environment for all patients. 

“This recognition from the HEI is especially meaningful because the LGBTQ Clinic team has worked hard over the past year to incorporate telemedicine services resulting in increased access for patients across the state of Iowa,” says Katie Imborek, MD, co-director of the clinic. “We’re also performing more gender-affirming surgeries like vaginoplasty and male chest reconstruction.” 

The HEI evaluates and scores health care facilities based on detailed criteria in the following categories:  

  • Foundational policies and training in LGBTQ+ patient-centered care 
  • LGBTQ+ patient services and support 
  • Employee benefits and policies 
  • Patient and community engagement. 

For more information about the HEI or to view the 2022 report, visit the Human Rights Campaign Foundation