By Steve Blanchard - June 08, 2020
Inclusion is an important value to LaTanya Scott. As a Ph.D. and Associate Director of Industry Alliances at Moffitt Cancer Center, Scott works with a wide range of people from all different backgrounds. Respecting each person’s individual perspectives matters to her, especially as a gay and Black woman.
“My team and I work on collaborating between industry partners and faculty and staff at Moffitt,” Scott said. “We work with companies with the same goals as ours – to treat and cure cancer. It makes the job easier when you know that you can be who you are without worrying if a manager or a member of leadership has an issue with your sexuality, race or anything else. It’s more conducive to achieving our goals on a daily basis.”
While June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month, Scott takes comfort in knowing that LGBTQ team members are celebrated throughout the year at Moffitt. When the cancer center adopted its core values of compassion, drive, excellence, imagination and inclusion in 2018, it solidified her respect for the institution.
“Moffitt has always been about being on the cutting edge and putting our patients first,” Scott said. “That remains important and core to our mission. But what’s coming more to the forefront now is making sure everyone is more aware of each other’s unique perspectives and what is ingrained within us, no matter our role. I really love our whole values campaign.”
And the values aren’t just important to our team members. In 2015, Chrys Bundy, who is now the President of St. Pete Pride’s Board of Directors, was treated at Moffitt when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“I can’t begin to describe how different my experience was at Moffitt compared to other hospitals,” he said. “The proactive scheduling, the availability of my treatment team, the compassion and professionalism was out of this world. I didn’t think a lot about the cancer. It was six months of my life that were incredibly difficult physically, but I always knew my entire care team, not just an answering service, was a phone call away.”
Thankfully throughout his cancer journey, Bundy had his biggest fan by his side, his husband, Robert.
“Had I gotten sick, perhaps in a less inclusive part of the country that wasn’t as accepting of my husband, he likely would not have been permitted to stay overnight in my hospital room or interact with my doctors and nurses as my caregiver,” Bundy said.
Moffitt’s commitment to LGBTQ equality hasn’t gone unnoticed. Each year the cancer center participates in Tampa Pride and St. Pete Pride, both of which have been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And for eight consecutive years, Moffitt was named a Leader in Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. In 2019 Moffitt scored a 100 on the organization’s Healthcare Equality Index, which included a higher benchmark, requiring organizations to demonstrate that they offer at least one companywide health insurance plan that provides transgender-inclusive coverage.
The 2020 Healthcare Equality Index results are expected later in June.
Moffitt’s ongoing recognition of the LGBTQ community and offering a comfortable environment of respect is important to team members, patients and the community as a whole, according to Dr. B. Lee Green, vice president of Diversity, Public Relations and Strategic Communications.
"Individuals faced with a cancer diagnosis should not be concerned about being treated negatively because of their sexual orientation."- Dr. B. Lee Green, vice president of Diversity, Public Relations and Strategic Communications
“As we all know, cancer does not care what you look like, where you live, who you worship, the color of your skin or who you love,” Green said. “We live the value of inclusion each and every day. Individuals faced with a cancer diagnosis should not be concerned about being treated negatively because of their sexual orientation.”
For Scott, who has been a team member at Moffitt since she joined as a post doc in 2008, the ongoing leadership at the cancer center has evolved and is constantly improving in a way that makes LGBTQ people more welcome and more comfortable than ever before.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have colleagues, co-workers and staff who have always been open, welcoming and inclusive,” Scott said. “No matter where I’ve been, it’s been about producing research. Everything else is secondary. No one has to be closeted and everyone can be themselves without fear of repercussions. And that’s key to making sure we achieve our goal of combat and cure this disease.”