At Empath Health we recognize the diversity of our community and are committed to providing compassionate care with respect and sensitivity. Ensuring our staff has the cultural competence to interact with patients, their families and caregivers is an integral part of our values.

“We need to be an organization that is constantly learning,” says Karen Davis-Pritchett, vice president of access and inclusion, provider and community relations at Empath Health. “Communities and their needs are always changing. We have a duty to go above and beyond to accept these people when they come through our doors.”

The ability to best serve the needs of a varied community and employee family comes with the creation of safe spaces for people to share their experiences. In the ongoing focus of honoring diversity, a recent focus has been on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

“Empath Health has always had commitment to the LGBT community, but we really showed it in a public way in June 2019 with the flying of Pride flags to celebrate Pride Month,” says Stacy Orloff, vice president of innovation and community health at Empath Health. “Our ability to become certified with SAGE was the next step of this commitment.”

SAGECare, a division of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), is a part of one of the nation’s oldest and largest organizations focused on LGBT older adults.

SAGE reports that over the next 10 years, there will be about 7 million LGBT seniors in the United States. The training provided by SAGECare offers the tools to build a strong culture of inclusivity and respect with a specific focus on this age group and their caregivers.

“We can’t use the lens of today when working with elders,” explains Orloff.

The social landscape around the LGBT community has evolved in recent years and it can be easy to think about situations within this frame of mind. However, the experiences of the younger generation are not the same as the older part of the population.

To provide quality care for this population, it is necessary to understand the challenges they have encountered in their life and the barriers they still face today. SAGECare teaches how to recognize and adapt to the varying needs of these individuals.

During the training, participants are asked to consider how they interact with LGBT older adults. A series of activities help reframe current thoughts and introduce new ideas into ways to create a safer, more inclusive space.

“People want to find a place where they belong and can feel safe and empowered,” adds Davis-Prichett. “Everyone from employee to patient to caregiver should feel a sense of belonging.”

Empath Health is currently certified by SAGECare at the platinum level across our entire continuum of services. This means that at least 80% of employees have completed an hour-long online course and at least 80% of leadership completed a four-hour in-person training with a SAGE instructor. To maintain certification, the online class must be repeated yearly and the in-person training completed every three years.

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