Pride in Health Care

IMG_4620The gay pride flag was raised at each of the hospitals in the University of Washington Medicine system in Seattle last week, including this flag atop the main tower at Harborview Medical Center. UW Medicine was the first medical system in the country to do this. I am very proud of my employer.

Yesterday, before I ducked inside the air-conditioned auditorium classroom at Harborview where I am teaching a health humanities course to nurses, I stood outside in the blazing hot sun determined to catch a photo of the flag unfurled in all its glory–beside Old Glory, our American flag. As I gazed up at the tower, I thought about what it means for a hospital to be ‘out’ with such a diversity statement.

Flying the gay pride flag is not a magic wand–poof!–proclaiming that we have cured all bias and discrimination (including the pernicious racial discrimination) within these hallowed medical walls. But it is an important step in the correct direction.

I went back inside the hospital to teach my class, simultaneously encouraged by how far we have come as a nation–as a health care system–and dismayed at how far we need to go to truly become one nation, one people, indivisible, under god or the wide blue sky.

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