Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hospital tells lesbian domestic partners "you need medical power of attorney"

At Spring Valley Hospital, in Las Vegas, Nevada,  a lesbian couple - Brittney Leon and Terri-Ann Simonelli - was told at admissions that even though they had a legal domestic partnership, they would need a medical power of attorney for one gay partner to make decisions in the event of a crisis.

Brittney Leon was checking into the hospital for complications related to her pregnancy.  During the admittance, the admissions officer informed the couple that the hospital policy required gay couples to have a medical power of attorney.  Even though the couple offered to go home and get their certificate designating them as legal domestic partners, the admissions officer said that it wouldn't matter - the policy was the policy.

In Nevada, the domestic partnership law passed in 2009 provides all the rights of married couples.

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:
A woman who identified herself as public relations representative at Spring Valley Hospital told a Review-Journal reporter in a phone interview that the hospital policy requires gay couples have power of attorney in order to make medical decisions for each other .

When asked if she was aware of Nevada's domestic partnership law, she accused the reporter of bias and hung up the telephone.

The domestic partnership law states: "Domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses."

What confuses me is no one has brought up that on April 15, 2010, the White House released a statement by Obama instructing his Health and Human Services secretary to draft rules requiring hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments to grant all patients the right to designate people who can visit and respect patients' choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them. That should have come into play here, domestic partnership or not, no?

The couple says they don't intend to file a complaint or lawsuit against Spring Valley Hospital. But they do hope their problem will lead to more awareness of the domestic partnership law and for fair treatment of gay people.

Sadly, in the addition to the stress at admissions, Leon lost her baby.

29 comments:

  1. Maybe the hospital's General Counsel has a comment?

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  2. They need to sue that hospital and the administrators into bankruptcy.

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  3. I wish the best for these two women and hope they can heal and grow in love through the loss of their baby.
    As for the hospital administrator, I hope she loses her job!

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  4. Sue the crap out of them. Obvious bible thumpers trying to discriminate. Also yank their medicare payments per the current presidential executive order.

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  5. This is why we need marriage, domestic partnership is not equal, it is hateful and allows people like this to exist....sue their behinds off.

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  6. But having a medical power of attorney is what one needs. It doesn't matter that they have a domestic partnership. They are not being discriminated against and people who think that just because they have a domestic partnership means that everything else is supposed to fall in line are wrong.

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    1. They didn't ask for a financial power of attorney when they charged her insurance. They had no problem following the law to get paid.

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    2. But that's not how it's supposed to be. The law says that a DP confers the same rights as marriage. The hospital is clearly wrong here and they need to be held accountable for it.

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    3. Do we know for a fact that Nevada automatically accords a legal spouse the right to be health care proxy? That is not the case in all 50 states.

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    4. That is why we need marriage. Domestic Partnership is crap. People don't respect it.

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  7. I'll just bet they wouldn't have told a straight couple who were domestic partners that!

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  8. People do need medical power of attorney.

    HOWEVER - if a heterosexual married couple came into the emergency room and said "we're married" no one would question if the uninjured member of the couple would have a say in treatment.

    Nevada state law says - and I'm quoting - "domestic partners have the SAME rights, protections, and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law that are granted to and imposed upon married spouses."

    Here's the link to the Nevada state website: http://nvsos.gov/index.aspx?page=274#281

    Basically this underscores why we need marriage equality in the US.

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  9. Well, you brave Anonymous poster, you obviously didn't read the article. Nevada has a new law that says ALL rights granted to married spouses also extend to domestic partners.

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  10. Sue them. It is the only way to get justice.

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  11. There is both Nevada and federal law regarding this. A lawsuit requesting one billion dollars in federal and state court will show the teeth to these laws.
    And where is the anti-choice crowd? This act of discrimination caused a loss of a fetus. So quickly they ignore fetuses.

    Basically the state should decertify the hospital until there entire administration and Board are removed, and procedures changed. They purposely violated federal and state law

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  12. Wouldn't a Health care proxy work?

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    1. Thats not the point. It might have, but a heterosexual couple who came into the emergency room would not have even been asked for it. The law in Nevada says that if you come into an emergency room and you tell them that you are there with your domestic partner, you get treated EXACTLY the same as if you were there with your opposite-gendered spouse. They were not. The Admissions officer broke the law, and perhaps, just perhaps, the delay caused the poor woman to lose her baby. A commenter above got it right...the life of the baby was less important than denying a same-sex couple their rights under the law. Do you see the hypocrisy there?

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  13. My partner and I thank you for all of your support. Sincerely, Terri-Ann Simonelli

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    1. Terri-Ann. We're so sorry for your loss. You and Brittney put this hospital administration to shame in the way you've handled the situation. Hopefully something good will come of this in the future.

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    2. That's all we could hope for. Our whole purpose was to get this issue out there. To have our story heard, and hopefully cause some type of change in the system and in people. Thank you again. And thank you for being our voice as well.

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    3. I honestly think you have a very good case to sue the hospital for discrimination. Sadly, today, thats the only way these institutions are going to learn that they can no longer allow individuals like this admissions officer to pull this stuff.

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    4. At the very least a complaint should be filed. That has less risk and emotional baggage than a drawn out lawsuit. These tinpot dictators are really never going to change just by talking nicely to them.

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  14. My partner and I thank you for all of your support. Sincerely, Terri-Ann Simonelli

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  15. The problem here is the Nevada Domestic Partner law. It has no teeth and no penalties if businesses don't follow the law.

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  16. Thank you Terri-Ann for sharing the story. Very important. I've worked hard to get this out to other major LGBT bloggers as well as The Advocate. I live in Las Vegas myself, so I have a local interest as well. Wishing you both the best.

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  17. I'm currently in touch with the NV state attorney general's office. I'm looking for answers on what exactly the domestic partnership law covers and does not cover. Also looking to find out if Nevada automatically recognizes spouses as medical "proxies" and if so, should domestic partners have the same right. I'll post an update. This is important to me.

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  18. Randy. Thanks for getting our story out. Here's some more info: (Also, keep an eye out for more in this Tuesdays Review Journal
    .
    We were told it was "hospital policy" that we provide them with a "POA" before having those rights which is against state laws/federal regulations according to the Health and Human Services (HHS). NO POWER OF ATTORNEY IS NEEDED OR REQUIRED, according to HHS. We need to make sure Universal Health Services ensures that each and every one of its hospitals fully understands and complies with the new laws recognizing visitation and decision making rights (which go hand in hand) of gay couples not only here in Nevada but in every state that is currently under the State Registered Domestic Partnership law.

    The above is the exact reason why we came forward with our story. Because there is definately confusion with everyone on the current laws, rights and regulations.

    "HHS has updated the guidance for these rules to emphasize that hospitals should give deference to patients’ wishes concerning their representatives, whether expressed in writing, orally, or through other evidence, unless prohibited by state law. The guidance issued today is intended to make it easier for family members, including a same-sex domestic partner, to make informed care decisions for loved ones who have become incapacitated."
    http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/09/20110907a.html
    See the new HHS regulations at above link. Also, please sign our petition here:
    http://www.change.org/petitions/universal-health-services-end-discrimination-against-gay-couples-in-your-hospitals-2



    Terri-Ann Simonelli

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  19. And thank you for the best wishes Randy :)

    I hope our story makes a change for all of us.

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  20. Urban-Your exactly right. The law definately needs more teeth in place for protecting Domestic Partners. I also agree that they need to implement some type of penalty to businessess that do not comply with the current laws. It's the only way they will listen. This is what I'm trying to push for instead of the ID cards that they had spoke about here:

    http://www.lvrj.com/news/assemblyman-seeks-to-provide-identification-cards-to-registered-domestic-partners-168230786.html

    Assemblyman Anderson was meerly taking a suggestion we had said to the reporter at the RJ, but after thinking about it, yes, it is a step backwards. Assemblyman Elliot Anderson has been in contact with me in support of the protection of Domestic Partners and the laws that do so. He seems to be a compassionate fighter and I'm hoping he continues to push for us.

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