Pride Month finds MUSC setting new LGBTQ+ goals across state

June 18, 2021
Chase Glenn standing outside.
Chase Glenn brings enthusiasm and experience to what he believes is the only position like his in South Carolina health care. Photo by Sarah Pack

Pride Month finds the Medical University of South Carolina’s first director of LGBTQ+ Health Services and Enterprise Resources making big plans in his newly created role. “There are many things we’ll be taking on as we begin to establish MUSC as a center of excellence for LGBTQ health care," Chase Glenn said.

Among them:

  • Get MUSC Health back on the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index. The index lists hospitals that offer the best care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer patients and their families.
  • Work with the Fenway Institute’s National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center to train care team members to provide inclusive and culturally competent care for people who identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Begin to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity in Epic, the electronic medical records system MUSC Health uses to keep track of patient information. Glenn said that will improve the care LGBTQ+ patients receive.
  • Find ways to make the MUSC and MUSC Health campuses more welcoming for LGBTQ+ people and their families.
  • Make MUSC more visible at LGBTQ+ community events.

“Some of the goals that I outlined are very specific, because I feel like we need some specific metrics to be able to hit to know that we're moving forward,” Glenn said.

He also wants LGBTQ+ employees to know they have support and resources. “When my email account was turned on, which I think was the day they announced my hiring, I already had probably 50 emails from employees saying, ‘Wow, I'm so excited that this position even exists. I'm so encouraged by this.’ Whether they identify as LGBTQ or they have a family member, or they're just generally supportive, I was so glad to hear from them.”

David Zaas, M.D., CEO of MUSC Health’s Charleston Division, said it’s important to make sure every employee, patient and student is treated fairly and has access to the best care. “It's a great example of clearly living our values to our team members and our community.”

Dr. David Zaas 
Dr. David Zaas

He hopes other health care organizations follow that example. “I'm excited that we have the commitment to move forward and really put our stake in the ground, recognizing how important health equity is. We need to be a leader — not only in Charleston, South Carolina, but nationally among academic medical centers in championing health equity for all communities, including our LGBTQ patients. It's not a political issue. It's a health issue.”

Glenn, former executive director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, said research shows LGTBQ people have been — and are being — discriminated against. He also knows from personal experience as a transgender man.

“We know that in general, many LGBTQ folks are living at the intersection of multiple sorts of marginalized identities. They're experiencing housing insecurity and food insecurity and lack of social support. This, combined with the historical discrimination LGBTQ people have experienced in health care, can lead to folks feeling like, ‘OK, I don't necessarily feel like I'm represented here. I don't know that I can count on this care.’”

Zaas said that prevents people from getting the care they need. “The LGBTQ community has a higher incidence of mental health disorders, an increased risk of suicide, a greater frequency of substance abuse, just to name a few. And there are societal barriers to access as well as the social stigma that creates a reluctance to seek care.”

Glenn said the good news at MUSC is that people were already working on solving those problems before his arrival. “I’m building on what was already happening, connecting all the good things that were already in place.”

Zaas called the timing of Glenn’s arrival important because it comes as MUSC Health expands across South Carolina. “This isn't just a Charleston initiative. We're now a statewide health system, and rapidly growing, right? So it's our ability to say, ‘No, this isn't just something we're doing in Charleston. This is something that MUSC is doing to benefit our communities across the state.’”

But Glenn said it isn’t just about getting a certain designation. “It is a journey that we're going to be on to raise the quality of the care that we're providing and create spaces that are inclusive and welcoming of LGBTQ folks, whether they're patients, families, employees, visitors or students.”

About the Author

Helen Adams