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The *Philadelphia Fire Department* responded to a fire in the basement of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on Friday at noon. Photo: Jenny Lu / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Penn Medicine has become a leader in LGBT health, winning an award from a top LGBT advocacy group.

Last week, the Human Rights Campaign recognized all four Penn hospitals — the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn-Presbyterian Medical Center, Pennsylvania Hospital and Chester County Hospital — for exceptional support and care for LGBT patients and families.

Around 400 hospitals were named Healthcare Equality Leaders, the highest honor the Human Rights Campaign designates, by meeting non-discrimination and training criteria that demonstrate a commitment to equitable and comprehensive care, according to the group's website.

The Penn Medicine Program for LGBT Health was introduced in February to address the challenges that LGBT patients, medical students and health workers often face, with the goal of creating a comfortable and accepting environment. The program has five main facets: institutional climate and visibility, health education, research, patient care and community outreach.

“Since its inception, the program has increased the number of opportunities to learn about LGBT health via lectures, invited talks, panel discussions and distribution of resources," Baligh Yehia, the director of medicine for the program, said in an email statement. "We serve as a nexus on the health campus [and] bring together inter-professional groups to improve LGBT care, education and research.”

The four hospitals have also broadened their non-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity and to  provide LGBT patient care training to the hospital’s senior managers.

Providing equal patient care across the board is an important part of the values of Penn Medicine, Yehia said.

“Our mission has always been to provide welcoming and culturally sensitive care for all communities, including the LGBT community," he said. "Leaders at Penn Medicine are extremely proud of this designation.”

Yehia said he believes the Human Rights Campaign designation will strengthen the trust that the LGBT community has in the Penn hospital system.

There are also several student groups that focus on LGBT issues in health, including LGBT in Medicine Allies and Nurses at Penn Understanding Sexuality in Healthcare.

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