Blue Cross certifies 37 new LGBTQ Safe Zones

PROVIDENCE – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has designated an additional 37 health care sites as LGBTQ Safe Zones, certifying that they have demonstrated care designed to meet the specific needs of LGBTQ patients.

With these additions, the number of Blue Cross Safe Zones across Rhode Island has topped 100, the insurer says.

The new group of certified providers was bolstered by the commitment of Rhode Island Medical Imaging Inc., with all 17 of its locations now deemed safe zones. All six locations of Tides Family Services were also certified as safe zones, Blue Cross said. Also achieving the designation was the East Bay Community Action Program, the first community action agency to become a Blue Cross Safe Zone.

The 37 new sites represent a broad range of adult and pediatric services, including mental health, medical imaging, physical therapy, and obstetrics and gynecology.

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“We applaud all of these providers for taking the initiative to join our Safe Zone program and are so pleased to welcome multi-site practices in their entirety, including all locations of RIMI and Tides Family Services,” said Dr. Farah Shafi, Blue Cross executive vice president and chief medical officer. “Being responsive to the unique needs of this community isn’t just respectful, it’s essential to quality and equitable health care. It encourages LGBTQ patients to seek the care they need when they might otherwise put off getting help due to feelings of alienation, fear and stress.”

Since Blue Cross launched the program in 2016, 117 health care sites have achieved BCBSRI Safe Zone designation.

“We’re so grateful that providers all across Rhode Island and representing so many different types of programs and services, have joined us in this campaign to better serve our long and historically underserved LGBTQ community,” said Scott Gowrie, the program lead for Blue Cross. “The fact that in such a short period of time, so many providers have come to us and demonstrated they are truly welcoming of this population speaks to its success and growing popularity.”

The following facilities have sites newly designated as LGBTQ Safe Zones: Wood River Health, Cultivating Minds Counseling Services, Rhode Island Medical Imaging, Thrive Behavioral Health, Hasbro Children’s Hospital rehabilitation services, Pappas OPT Middletown (occupational and physical therapy), The Miriam Hospital Outpatient Rehab Clinic, The Holistic Heart (therapy services), East Bay Community Action Program, Tides Family Services (cognitive behavioral therapy, structured recreation, after-school programming), and Woman & Infants Hospital OGCC (obstetrics and gynecology).

Certification requirements for Blue Cross LGBTQ Safe Zones include staff training specific to the care of LGBTQ patients, protection for patients and staff from discrimination based on gender identity or expression, gender-neutral bathrooms, inclusive forms and procedures, and a public commitment to connecting with and serving the LGBTQ community.

Blue Cross solicits applications and designates new LGBTQ Safe Zones twice a year. To learn more about the program, or if you are a provider or practice looking to become certified, visit the BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone website.

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