PUEBLO — Parkview Medical Center will change its admission policy Wednesday to ask patients to disclose their gender identity. The information will be included on confidential official medical records.
The additional question of how a person identifies may seem like minor change, but Dr. Kiely Schultz explained that information can help doctors more accurately treat transgender patients.
"For example, on patient ID bracelets in the hospital, those would have the patient name and their gender. But if they're a transgender patient, it may not be the gender that they identify as."
Such information is critical when diagnosing illnesses or prescribing proper doses of medicine.
"What does that mean for their lab values, or are we making sure we're using the appropriate reference ranges," Dr. Schultz explained.
She said the hospital also hopes the simple act of asking how a patient identifies will put more transgender individuals in Pueblo at ease when it comes to seeking treatment.
"In 2008, there was a National Healthcare Survey and at that point in time they found that 19 percent of transgender patients felt they had been denied care in the healthcare setting, and 28 percent had delayed access to healthcare because of concern for discrimination or disrespect," Schultz said.
She pointed out that surveys on transgender individuals are difficult to come by because many people aren't willing to self-identify.
Tommy Farrell, president of the Southern Colorado Equality Alliance called the new policy "an excellent first step" in improving healthcare outcomes for the transgender community.
"They can't always find the healthcare that they need, they don't always feel supported by a doctor or medical facility. So, I think that just having this on a form is a good step in the right direction."