Hospital Apologizes to Lesbian Denied Visitation Rights

 

The chief executive officer of Rolling Hills Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee, has been forced to apologize after a “human error” led to a lesbian woman being denied visitation rights to see her partner.

Val Burke was prevented from visiting her partner, who is currently staying in the hospital’s residential facility, without another member of the woman’s family there. When the family went out of town Burke was then denied all access.

From Out & About Newspaper:

“I went to visit her at the appropriate visiting time and was turned away,” she says. “We have been living together for three years now, but that didn’t matter to them either. The rest of her family is out of town, so she didn’t have any one visit her.”

Burke had previously been allowed visitation rights, but only with her partner’s mother in attendance.

[...]

Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) contacted the facility Sunday evening and confirmed that Rolling Hills participates in Medicare and Medicaid. Hospital administration were made aware of the incident and addressed this policy with staff on Monday, according to Chris Sanders, chair of TEP’s Nashville committee.

The Obama administration issued guidelines this year on federal anti-discrimination rules making it explicit that for hospitals running Medicare and Medicaid it is a violation to deny access to a same-sex spouse or partner and that such a denial of rights can cost the hospital its federal funding.

Fortunately, this incident has seen a swift resolution. The chief executive of the hospital has apologized, saying that he has already met with staff to make it clear that this practice is unlawful and that he plans to meet with Burke personally so they can discuss the matter.

From The Tennessean:

“It was human error,” said Richard “Rick” Bangert, chief executive officer of Rolling Hills. “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.”

[...]

Bangert said he plans to meet with Burke today.

“I will apologize and work with her directly,” he said. “I take it very personally. This is not representative of the hospital.”

The Tennessee Equality Project joined with the Human Rights Campaign in order to help support Val Burke and her right to see her partner.

Every year the HRC compiles the Healthcare Equality Index, an annual survey of healthcare policies and practices of interest to LGBT patients and their families. While the HEI is not a perfect guide — few are — it can help LGBT patients find quality healthcare with the peace of mind that they will not have to also face the added burden of prejudice and discrimination. Read more about the Healthcare Equality Index here.

Related Reading:

HHS Plans to Collect LGBT Health Data

HHS: DOMA Not an Excuse for Denial of Equality in LGBT Elder Medicaid Care

Young Gay Men in Serious Relationships Need to Practice Safe Sex Too

Photo used under the MorgueFile user license, with thanks to Clarita.

56 comments

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

they deserve the same rights!

Lika S.
Lika S.4 years ago

I've had home care clients be in ICU - and allowed to visit. some of these don't have family to visit them, and I've never been denied. I think it's discrimination.

Mark Stevenson
Mark S.4 years ago

Was the apology "I'm sorry that we are a bunch of uncaring jerks. Here's a cookie." ??

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson4 years ago

thanks.

Sandra L.
Sandra L.4 years ago

Maybe we all need stories like these to serve as a reminder of the ongoing issues some face just to enjoy the same rights most of us rarely even think about.

Nina Anghel
Nina Anghel4 years ago

thanks

Lena T.
Lena T.4 years ago

It's good the problem was solved quickly. It could have happened to any relative, I guess. Only when it concerns LGBT rights, it gets excessive attention. Maybe it wasn't such a big deal.

Abraham C.
Abraham C.4 years ago

Did someone at some in sensitive hospital forget to tell him about "Penny Medical". Also If you aren't employed and have no means of paying for treatment the hospital will file the form and get reimbursed by medicaid.

Abraham C.
Abraham C.4 years ago

Did someone at some in sensitive hospital forget to tell him about "Penny Medical". Also If you aren't employed and have no means of paying for treatment the hospital will file the form and get reimbursed by medicaid.

Abraham C.
Abraham C.4 years ago

Did someone at some in sensitive hospital forget to tell him about "Penny Medical". Also If you aren't employed and have no means of paying for treatment the hospital will file the form and get reimbursed by medicaid.