to your health

What? A Hospital Is Actually Changing Its Policies to Let Gays Visit Their Sick Partners?


Maybe if a certain Florida hospital had done the same thing, Janice Langbehn would not have been denied access to her dying partner Lisa Pond. But baby steps are still steps, so let’s all raise a glass to Fresno, Calif.’s Community Regional Medical Center, which is changing its policies after Teresa Rowe was refused visitation of her Kristin Orbin, who was admitted to the ER after suffering a epileptic seizure.

“She and her partner of four years, Teresa Rowe, had traveled from the Bay Area to Fresno to attend a rally in support of marriage for same-sex couples,” reports the ACLU, which along with NGLTF the National Center for Lesbian Rights, made demands in a public letter that the hospital change its policies. “Although Rowe, who grew up in nearby Clovis, California, was well aware of Orbin’s medical history and how she responded to various medications, hospital staff refused to allow her to speak with the doctors treating Orbin or to visit with her. As a result, Orbin was given the drug Ativan that she didn’t need and which caused her unnecessary pain. After the couple had been separated for several hours, Orbin finally saw her doctor. She complained to him, and Rowe was eventually allowed to be with her.”

There’s been no apology. But we’ll take a policy change.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #aclu #california #fresno stories and more


  • Ti

    This is really a bogus issue about visitation. I live in a very conservative part of the country and the hospitals here don’t give a rat’s ass about who visits who, just so long they can’t be accused of violating HIPAA regulations.

    So my advice is that if someone is in a relationship, get a durable medical power of attorney. Give the hospital a break and make their life easier.

  • Sam

    At this point, I almost feel bad pointing out all the sloppy mistakes, but come on Queerty! It was NCLR – the National Center for Lesbian Rights. NOT NGLTF. I don’t think the Task Force even GOES by NGLTF anymore.

    Slow down and read the posts you link to. Seriously.

  • Sam

    @Ti: From the original press release:

    “Unfortunately, because Kristin suffers from epilepsy, trips to the hospital are pretty common for us, which is why we filled out the legal paper work to make sure I would be able to be with her and make emergency decisions about her care. But the hospital wouldn’t let me see Kristen and ignored my advice about her treatment. They ended up giving her the exact medication I repeatedly asked them not to give her.”

    Later it says that, when Teresa said she’d have her lawyer fax copies of all their documents that the hospital staff told her “it wouldn’t matter.”

    They had gotten all the legal protections. Hospital STILL wouldn’t let them see each other. Still think it’s “a bogus issue?”

  • Z.M.

    @ TI. I also live in a very conservative state and have had no problems whatsoever visitation or otherwise. I was in a skiing accident last year and had to be taken to the ER, once my partner arrived the hospital staff treated him with respect and dignity. He had to fill out paperwork, provide insurance and medical history.

    But I also agree with TI just get the damn paperwork and know where to find it. I am lucky to live in a state where the Secretary of State records your living will and medical power of attorney so if you ever lose it, the hospitals can have access to it.

  • Ti

    I would hesitate to jump to conclusions that the hospital’s behaviour was based on prejudice. It may well have been the treating hospital have had other reasons to restrict access to the patient.

    Hospitals restrict access to patients for a variety of reasons particularly in emergent situations. I understand it feels bad to have your loved one ill and be kept away from them. I also understand some of the reasons hospitals restrict access are not based on good scientific evidence but rather medical customs. And I also understand that heterosexual staff people may not be as empathetic to the issues of same sex couples.

    But rather than make these legal issues, why can’t we view these as opportunities to educate. Hospitals by and large are staffed with people who work very hard and want to do the right thing. Let us be the ones who help them learn what the right thing to do in these situations.

  • Mark

    I work in a hospital. It’s our job to treat all patient’s and visitors equally and with respect. Advising Gay and Lesbian patients to spend the additional time and expense towards a power of attorney will not stop these bigoted gate keepers from continuing to deny access. It happens quite often. The solution is much bigger.

  • Steve

    This is an example of why we need a uniform Federal standard, such as “marriage”, for relationship rights.

    Each state has different requirements for medical power-of-attorney documents. In Florida, the required language is given in the statute, and it is also required to be notarized by a Florida Notary. Anything else is considered a “defective” document. A California Medical POA is not the exact Florida statutory language, and is not notarized by a Florida Notary, and so has no effect in Florida. There might be a Federal case to be made, but the people on the floor who have to make the immediate decision are usually trained only to recognize the Florida statutory language and Florida Notary stamps.

    Of course, Miami-Dade county also has a strong Hispanic ethnic concentration, with strong Catholic influence and relatively low average educational achievement. The stereotypical prejudice against gay people is common. So even completely correct documents sometimes have no effect.

    Even after we get a uniform national “marriage” statute, we will still need to carry notarized copies of marriage licenses, for many years. And, I expect, even that will still sometimes have no effect.

Comments are closed.