Chief Exec Sorry Hospital Failed Gay Couple


Following Care2′s exclusive report on the anti-gay treatment 20-year-old Paul Zilber says he and his partner faced at the hands of Saint Barnabas Behavioral Health Center staff, the facility has since contacted Mr Zilber to offer what appears to be an apology.

In an email seen by Care2 that was sent to Mr Zilber dated August 1 and credited to Joe Hicks, President and Chief Executive Officer at Saint Barnabas Behavioral Health Center, Hicks apologizes if the center did not meet its “high standard” of care, saying, “We take seriously the respect and treatment of any person who enters a Barnabas Health facility.”

In the email Hicks, without mentioning anything specific about Mr Zilber’s case, goes on to assure that, “Barnabas Health policies are fully compliant with federal and state non-discrimination laws” and reveals the incident that led Mr Zilber being barred from seeing his same-sex partner “is being reviewed.”

The email goes on to state:

“It is the policy of Barnabas Health that all of our facilities are strongly committed to treating all patients regardless of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, financial status or disability.  Moreover, the satisfaction of all of our patients and their families is one of our most important core values.

“We appreciate your bringing your concerns to our attention.  We have reviewed our policies and practices and reminded staff of their responsibility to apply it both in letter and in spirit.”

The email continues by highlighting that Barnabas was part of the first healthcare organization in New Jersey to offer healthcare benefits to domestic partners of employees, and goes on to say that it strives “to fulfill our mission of providing the highest quality healthcare services available to all members of our communities,” before thanking Mr Zilber for his feedback.

Earlier in the week Mr Zilber told Care2 how, when he went to kiss his fiance goodbye after visiting him in the facility alongside his partner’s grandparents, Barnabas nurses cornered him and told him that this behavior was inappropriate, and when he tried to argue that this seemed discriminatory, they struck him off the list of his partner’s allowed visitors, only allowing him back some days later.

In response to the email from Barnabas, Mr Zilber told Care2 he didn’t feel like this was much of an apology at all.

“At first, I felt a little relieved having some response from the higher-ups in the company,” he said. “However, after reading the apology, it seems as if it was robotic, and very generic. It didn’t offer any resolution, and it seemed to be a rather blank apology, if you would even call it that.”

Asked whether he felt this brought him closure, Mr Zilber said no, adding that he would continue with his fight until Barnabas publicly acknowledged what happened:

“I’m currently working with local equality organizations to bring some justice out of this, with hopes that Saint Barnabas will publicly come out with a heartfelt apology, as well as a solution, and possibly even reevaluate their policies and offer sensitivity training to their nurses.”

As of writing, the Care2 petition Mr Zilber started a little over a week ago has received over 23,000 signatures, far exceeding his original goal of 10,000.

When asked how he felt about all this, Mr Zilber said how grateful he is for the support he has received, saying:

“To every single person who signed this petition, I want to thank all of you for finding it in your hearts to help me fight the injustices that we both had to endure. We are both beyond grateful to have each and everyone of you helping us make sure this does not happen to anyone else in this facility. Again, from both of our families, we are extremely grateful for all of you.”

Care2 will continue to follow Paul Zilber’s case as it develops and will bring you further updates in the coming weeks.


Related Reading:

Care2 Exclusive: Gay Kiss Gets Man Barred From Partner’s Bedside

Chick-fil-A In New Hampshire Sponsoring Gay Pride Fest!

“National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-Fil-A” Planned

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Caro Wallis.


Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

Sorry isn't enough . . . . . .

Phillip M.
Phillip M.5 years ago

Why do these hospitals think they have the moral right to deny admittance of anyone to see any patient in the hospital especially the patient's spouse? I am really becoming tired of these bigots forcing their religious views on visitors who they think shouldn't have the right to visit patients in hospitals. It isn't up to them to screen anyone. There job if it is a nurse, is to work within your purview of expertise and keep it in that boundary. You need to mind your own business when it comes to personal relationships. I wish this couple would sue the person who denied them the right to be together, the hospital and anyone else that forced their religious opinions upon them. This has to stop. Civil unions, and domestic partnerships, in other words, "separate, but equal" are anything but that obviously. Gays will not have equal rights of marriage until the same name is used for their marriages as the one for straights with all the rights and privileges. Until then, you will see the same thing happening all over the country because these bigots will think they have the right to discriminate against them.

Ed G.
Ed G5 years ago

Its a simple backhanded slap in the face. The writer was talking around the issue and really did not apologize for anything. As others have mentioned if this was because of one or more homophobic reactions the hospital should have had everything in place not just now saying "oops". The line where the writer said that they were compliant with the government just shows how inflexible these jerks really are and indeed how homophobic they are. I hope they continue to press for a resolution and for a written "rule" in the future how to handle these non existent so called issues.

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

The apology only came so that a civil suit would not follow........

Deborah F.
Deborah F5 years ago

That's it? A little lip service that doesn't sound heartfelt nor genuine but rather a pat response to pacify someone? They didn't just get their toe stepped on. This is serious!

Jen Matheson
Past Member 5 years ago

Talk about a bullshit apoogy! Good fo them for not giving in.

aj E.
aj E5 years ago

not convinced.

Karen Howard
Karen H5 years ago

Oops! We got caught, so we'll apologise. Next time we'll do it covertly and make sure nobody hears about it.

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago

hope they get the respect and the rights they deserve

Luis L.
Luis L5 years ago

Having a policy on paper is one thing; actually enforcing it is another. Defacto discrimation exists in places where there are policies to prevent it. If staff is not educated and steps are not taken to ensure non-discrimination is the practice it doesn't mean anything. Even with that people are starting to say that if some policiy is against their personal beliefs they have a right not to practice it. This renders the policy irrelevant and unenforceable. If these hospitals are receiving any form of government funding it should end until they find a way of enforcing non-discrimination policies.