Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island adds to its list of healthcare providers certified as LGBTQ Safe Zones


PROVIDENCE, RI – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has certified West View Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in West Warwick and  Frank J. Canino, Ph.D., in Cranston as BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone providers. The Safe Zone certification identifies healthcare practices providing safe, affirming and inclusive care to the LGBTQ community. These two providers join more than a dozen other practices statewide designated as BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone certified providers.

“The Safe Zone designation recognizes practices that welcome all Rhode Islanders and provide culturally competent care to the LGBTQ community,” said Stephanie Huckel, manager of Culture and Diversity & Inclusion at BCBSRI. “It is our hope that the Safe Zone Program helps the LGBTQ community make informed decisions about their healthcare, and we look forward to certifying more providers in the future.”

West View Nursing & Rehabilitation Center is the first skilled nursing facility in the state to be designated as a BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone. Frank J. Canino, Ph.D., a psychologist, is the first mental health provider in Cranston to receive the designation.

The BCBSRI Safe Zone logo at a provider’s office identifies a healthcare practice that provides safe, affirming, and inclusive care to the LGBTQ community. Certification requirements include staff training specific to the care of LGBTQ people, protection for patients and staff from discrimination based on gender identity or expression, gender neutral bathrooms, inclusive forms and procedures, and a public commitment to connecting with and serving the LGBTQ community. Since 2016 BCBSRI has certified more than a dozen practices in Rhode Island to help ensure the LGBTQ community can find the care they need. View the list of providers at

The LGBTQ community’s gap in care has been well-documented, particularly in Lambda Legal’s report “When Health Care Isn’t Caring.” Among the report’s statistics are:
• Almost 56 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents had experienced some form of healthcare discrimination, including (but not limited to):
o being refused needed care;
o being blamed for their healthcare status;
o healthcare professionals using harsh or abusive language; or
o healthcare professionals being physically rough or abusive.
70 percent of transgender and nonconforming respondents had one or more of the experiences described above.

“Patients can recognize an LGBTQ Safe Zone via an identifying window cling or plaque with the year for which the practice is certified,” said Huckel. “There are also several noticeable indications that a practice should become certified, including all staff members providing a respectful and inclusive environment, patients called by their preferred names and pronouns, and patients feel safe in the office.”

To learn more about BCBSRI’s LGBTQ Safe Zone program or if you are a provider/practice looking to become a BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone, visit

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