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Spectrum Announces Neutral Spaces

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Courtesy spectrumhealth.org
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Spectrum Health has announced plans to convert its single-occupant restrooms into affirming gender-neutral spaces. The decision comes on the heels of a long-time, national push for health equity.

“The biggest key is for us to listen and understand what the barriers are to safe care and try to help make that easier for everyone,” Dr. Darryl Elmouchi said.

Patients walking the halls of Spectrum Health in downtown Grand Rapids will see a myriad of changes over the next several months.

The West Michigan health care giant will be installing all-gender restroom signage to its Grand Rapids locations, starting with more than 300 single-stall restrooms at Butterworth Hospital. Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, President of Spectrum Health West Michigan, saying studies show lack of affirming spaces can negatively impact the mental health of the LGTBQ+ community.

“There’s clear harm associated with not having safe spaces that are deemed safe from a science standpoint. We wanted to make sure that everyone knew we were gender affirming and that we want to make sure we’re open for business for anyone that wants to come in.”

In a study done by the Journal of Adolescent Health, 85% of gender minority youth surveyed who’ve experienced bathroom discrimination, reported depressive moods and 60% seriously considered suicide.

Spectrum’s latest decision came after talks with the organization’s Happy Pride Inclusion Resource groups – and the in the wake of a national push for health equity for LGBTQ+ individuals.

“I’m really glad we’re doing this, but I think it’s one small step…over the long haul our goal is to help deconstruct societal barriers, barriers to health care access and equity,” Elmouchi said.

Elmouchi says he plans to continue discussions with local pride communities to find solutions to health care disparities across the board.