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Wheeler is One of 384 Health Care Facilities Nationwide, and Only Community Health Center in Connecticut, to Earn the “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” Designation

May 7, 2024 | PLAINVILLE, Conn. — Today, Wheeler Health announced its “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). The designation was awarded in the 16th iteration of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), released today. A record 1,065 healthcare facilities actively participated in the HEI 2024 survey and scoring process. Of those participants, 384 received the top score of 100, earning the “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation.

Wheeler is the only community health center in Connecticut to receive this designation.

“This level of recognition aligns with our core values and reflects our steadfast commitment to leading the way in serving the LGBTQ+ community,” said Sabrina Trocchi, PhD, MPA, President and Chief Executive Officer, Wheeler Health. “Every day, our dedication in this area is seen, heard, and felt across all corners of our organization, from highly trained, welcoming staff, to the delivery of informed, compassionate care and peer support, as well as meaningful outreach to LGBTQ+ individuals and their families.

“More than anything, providing high-quality, accessible care to the LGBTQ+ community is more than just an aspiration. It’s a ‘non-negotiable,’” added Trocchi.

“We know that LGBTQ+ people – especially our trans family – continue to face discrimination in the doctor’s office. No one should have to put their health on the backburner for fear of mistreatment in a healthcare facility or by their doctor,” said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign.

To achieve this tier of recognition, a healthcare facility must demonstrate true leadership in adopting LGBTQ+ policies and practices and receive full credit in the four areas below. Organizations must also meet the criteria for the provision of transgender-inclusive
health insurance.

  • Non-Discrimination and Staff Training;
  • Patient Services and Support;
  • Employee Benefits and Policies; and,
  • Patient and Community Engagement.

Key highlights from the report include:


  • 36% of 1,065 total participants earned the designation “2024 LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader.”
  • Targeted Health Disparities Reduction Plans: Encouragingly, 71% have an official plan for reducing health disparities that specifically includes LGBTQ+ patients in addition to race, ethnicity, and linguistic concerns.
  • Work to Be Done: Only 27% have an externally promoted specific program to provide patient navigation or advocacy services to transgender patients.
  • Bias Elimination and Welcoming Interactions: Just over half (53%) have a policy or policies that specifically outline procedures and practices aimed at eliminating bias and insensitivity, and ensuring appropriate, welcoming interactions with transgender patients.
  • EHR SOGI Data: Major increases are seen in the number of healthcare facilities collecting sexual orientation and gender identity-related data in their Electronic Health Records systems. Seven of the eight relevant data points had double-digit increases.
  • Pronouns in Electronic Health Records: The ability to collect and display a patient’s pronouns rose from 44% to 74%. This is an important tool to help prevent misgendering a patient.
  • FMLA-Equivalent Benefits: 38% offer FMLA-equivalent benefits that allow employees to take family and medical leave to care for same-sex partners as well as the children of a same-sex partner, regardless of biological or adoptive status – this is up from 34% in 2022.
  • Comprehensive Benefits for Domestic Partners: 41% provide medical and comprehensive health benefits to domestic partners of benefits-eligible employees up from 34% in 2022. This is the first increase in this measure since the 2015 Obergefell decision on same-sex marriage.
  • Employee Resource Groups: 72% have an officially recognized LGBTQ+ employee resource group.
  • Community Engagement and Support: 92% took part in or supported one or more LGBTQ+ related events or initiatives in their service area.


Wheeler’s Work

Wheeler delivers innovative and equitable care in several ways. Services such as Walk With Me, which continue to expand with the support of an anonymous donor and local community foundations, offer a specialized outpatient treatment track for LGBTQ+-identifying people of all ages. The organization also offers gender-affirming hormone therapy for adults, prophylaxis treatment, as well as an environment of care guided by an LGBTQ+ Patient Advisory Board, including inclusive restrooms and highly trained staff who provide patient-centered care based on individual needs. Wheeler’s Foster Care team works closely with community members interested in foster care and related LGBTQ+ issues, and the organization supports various LGBTQ+ events throughout the year, tracking data to identify gaps and identify solutions.

In addition, staff are supported through training and ongoing development for their work with the LGBTQ+ community as well as their own personal growth. Employee engagement is fostered through LGBTQ+ speakers, diversity committees, and through promotion of a culture of respect by living Wheeler’s values of Compassion, Diversity and Inclusion, Integrity, and Teamwork.

This year’s HEI comes as LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely as non-LGBTQ+ adults to be “treated unfairly or with disrespect by a doctor or healthcare provider” in the last three years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The impact of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation combined with a history of discrimination in healthcare settings has the potential to cause even more LGBTQ+ people to delay or avoid seeking healthcare, which makes the HEI even more salient for those looking to find LGBTQ+-inclusive care.


The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.

Wheeler’s Family Health & Wellness Centers in Bristol, Hartford, New Britain, Plainville, and Waterbury are community health centers that provide medical and dental care for the whole family, as well as behavioral health care and referral and linkages to specialty services.

Wheeler’s Health & Wellness Centers in Hartford, Bristol, and New Britain are funded in part by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Wheeler is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n).

Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial health insurance welcome. No patient will be denied health care services due to an individual’s inability to pay for services.

Wheeler provides comprehensive solutions that address complex health issues, providing individuals, families, and communities with accessible, innovative care that encourages recovery, health, and growth at all stages of life. Our integrated approach to primary and behavioral health, education, and recovery creates measurable results, positive outcomes, and hopeful tomorrows for more than 60,000 individuals across Connecticut each year. Visit