Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hospital Denies Visitation By Lesbian Partner

I've told this story a few times before, but in light of recent developments, it bears repeating.
Several years back, while we were living in Miami, Carlos was hospitalized for an appendectomy. While we registered him for admittance, the nurse asked who should be his contact number, and Carlos pointed to me. She asked, "What is his relation to you?"
Carlos said, "He's my partner." 
The woman seemed shocked, and muttered, "Oh." 
I was about ready to go off, because of her reaction, but mostly because Carlos was sweating, in severe pain, running a very high fever and we were stuck answering idiotic questions. But then the woman smiled, and told us that this was her first time using the "partner/significant other" key in admitting a patient. She then happily put down my name, my relation to Carlos as 'partner' and my home and cell numbers.
And while Carlos was in the hospital, I was treated by everyone, from nurses and attendants to his surgeon, as Carlos' very significant other. I was allowed to sleep in the room with him, I was kept abreast of all procedures, and, after the surgery, the doctor came looking for me to give me the update.
As it should be, right?
Not so, in Tennessee, where the chief executive officer of Rolling Hills Hospital in Franklin is set to apologize to Val Burke, a lesbian who was denied visitation rights with her partner because she wasn't 'family'.
Richard Bangert
Apparently Rolling Hills Hospital staff did not get the memo that this is offensive and rude, but that it is also a violation of new federal anti-discrimination guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last September.
Richard Bangert, that chief executive officer of Rolling Hills, says, “It was human error. They made a mistake. When I learned of it, I immediately met with my staff on Monday. We immediately made the change in terms of making sure that our policy was very clear.”
Um, Richard, that change should have been made in September. Everyone should have been clear in September.
Bangert has plans to meet with Burke: “I will apologize and work with her directly. I take it very personally. This is not representative of the hospital.”
So, what have we learned? There is still discrimination in regards to hospitalization and visitation rights for the LGBT community. And we learned that some hospitals, and some directors, instantly resolve the situation.
It's just sad that the situation had to happen at all.
Picture yourself trying to visit a loved one in the hospital and being told that, because you are the same-sex partner of the patient, you have no rights. or maybe you are the straight unmarried partner, and still are not considered 'family'. Think about that, about feeling helpless, if only for a moment until the hospital director steps up and fixes the issue.
No one should ever have to feel that unwelcome.



froggy said...

Considering how much a person can do for the ill person in the hospital (I had A LOT of practice with Eldest) you would think they would be grateful for the extra help!

Mitch Block said...

I was just yesterday telling new friends here in Sevilla about this problem in the states. They were shocked. It was always one of my great fears when Jerry and I were traveling around the country. And who cares if it's a violation of federal anti-discrimination guidelines? If we are not recognized throughout the US as equal members of society, it will continue to happen. And an apology (possibly) after the fact from a hospital director doesn't make one bit of difference.

Peter said...

Doesn't staff in hospitals read papers? Or do they only watch Fox News for information?

Buck said...

What's sad is that there are still many gay and lesbian people afraid or unwilling to be listed as partners. Internalized homophobia abounds.

Bill Dameron said...

My husband and I were in Seattle when he suffered an asthma attack. We went to the ER and while admitting us, he specified me as his husband, the admitting nurse refused to use the word husband and kept calling me a partner. The doctor called me a friend. That was incredibly frustrating and demeaning. Even with visitation rights, I still felt second class.

Wonder Man said...

This is really sad.

Biki said...

Rolling Hills Motion Re-directed by Lesbians, film at 11.