LGBTQ+ Victim Advocacy Initiative at Eskenazi Health | Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services
Eskenazi Health (“Eskenazi”) is one of the five largest safety net hospitals in the U.S., and the only public, general acute care hospital in Marion County, Indiana. In 2016, Eskenazi established a first-of-its-kind Gender Health Program in Indiana to provide primary and specialty care services for older adolescent and adult transgender patients of all gender identities.
The Gender Health Program is staffed by a multidisciplinary team of providers that help patients access gender-affirming hormone therapy; gender-affirming surgery; speech therapy; legal assistance; case management; and many other essential services.
As the program grew, it became apparent to the providers that many of the patients who came to it seeking safe care had past histories of assault or victimization. In 2020, Eskenazi secured a grant through the Office for Victims of Crime to fund two victim advocates to work directly with the Gender Health patients and those who present at the Emergency Department of Eskenazi’s downtown Indianapolis campus. These victim advocate roles were created to ensure that all transgender and non-binary victims of violence have the opportunity to connect with a culturally sensitive, medically, and socially competent staff member at any time.
Both victim advocates, who self-identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, began working with patients early in 2021. They bring different backgrounds to the job; one is a licensed social worker, and the other has a nursing degree. Eskenazi also provided a match to the grant, in the form of a salaried nurse practitioner who sees patients in the Gender Health Program and screens for past assault and/or victimization for referrals to victim advocate services.
In less than a year, the Gender Health Victim Advocates at Eskenazi have provided nearly 200 services to more than 131 transgender and non-binary victims of violence, abuse, and neglect. Eskenazi’s innovative approach to delivering services to LGBTQ+ patients through dedicated and specially trained advocates has improved both short- and long-term outcomes for these victims of violence, and demonstrated the clear need for victim advocates and life-saving services for the LGBTQ+ community.
The Eskenazi Health team will continue educating and advocating for their LGBTQ+ patients, as they encourage other states and programs to expand services for LGBTQ+ victims of violence.
2022 National Crime Victims' Service Awards Tribute Video
Watch this video to learn more about the LGBTQ+ Victim Advocacy Initiative at Eskenazi Health, 2022 recipient of the Crime Victims Financial Restoration Award.