Members of the LGBTQ+ community
By Elizabeth Dwyer Sandlin

Equality Affirmed

UNM Hospital Recognized as 2022 LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by Human Rights Campaign

Going to the hospital can be an overwhelming experience for anyone. When you factor in uncertainty about how your very identity will be received, some people choose to avoid seeking medical care altogether.

The University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) strives to be a welcoming and supportive place for all patients, and to that end, recently received the honor of designation as a 2022 LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). Since 2013, UNMH has consistently achieved this status, which is awarded to health care facilities that attain a score of 100 in HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI).

Scoring criteria for the HEI consists of four key areas: Non-Discrimination and Staff Training, Patient Services and Support, Employee Benefits and Policies and Patient and Community Engagement.

“It’s part of our culture and mission, to serve the underserved,” says Fabián Armijo, executive director of UNMH Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Interpreter Languages Services, Community Engagement and Native American Health Services. “Anytime someone has to come to a hospital is stressful, especially as LGBTQ+ people, gender and/or sex minorities, and we will take care of them.”

Armijo takes each area of the scoring criteria seriously, from the UNMH employee benefits package that includes coverage for gender-affirming surgery, a strong, public community presence at Albuquerque Pride each year, and comprehensive training for employees.


Fabian Armijo
Our non-discrimination training is vetted through the HRC and has a really powerful impact on our employees and our patients
Fabian Armijo, UNMH Executive Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

“Our non-discrimination training is vetted through the HRC and has a really powerful impact on our employees and our patients,” Armijo says. “Even a little bit of training can help – the more comfortable people are, the fewer mistakes are made. And even something as simple as an employee wearing their pronouns pin can help communicate to a patient: this is a place where you will be seen and honored for who you are.”

Even with consistent recognition as an LGBTQ+ leader, UNMH is always striving to do more and be better for employees and patients alike. The new hospital tower, for example, includes plans for patient- and employee-facing restrooms and changing rooms that are not gender-specific.

Until this year, UNMH was the only hospital in New Mexico to receive the HRC’s LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation. In 2022, two other New Mexico hospitals have joined the LGBTQ+ Leader ranks. Armijo hopes the trend continues.

“I hope (all New Mexico hospitals) get the designation and continue to work for it, so no matter where a patient goes, they get the care they need and deserve.”

Categories: Community Engagement, Diversity, Health, Top Stories, UNM Hospital