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‘For Going Against God’s Will’ Catholic Hospital Denies Gay Man HIV Meds

by David Badash on June 3, 2012

in Civil Rights,Discrimination,Legal Issues,News,Religion

Post image for ‘For Going Against God’s Will’ Catholic Hospital Denies Gay Man HIV Meds

A Catholic hospital in New Jersey is accused of denying a gay and HIV-positive man his HIV medications, as one doctor on staff reportedly stated, “for going against God’s will.”

“Joao Simoes sued Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Union County Superior Court,” the Courthouse News Service reports. “He says that the hospital admitted him in August 2011, but that requests for his lifesaving medication were not honored, and his sister was denied visitation rights.”

Susan V. Borga, M.D., from the Department of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry, allegedly approached Simoes while he was confined to the hospital’s mental health wing. Borga is not named as a defendant.
Simoes says Borga was unfazed when another patient told her that he had just gotten out of prison, where he served time for murder. But her reaction was allegedly different when Simoes said that he did not work because he planned to go back to school and because of his HIV status.
Borga then allegedly asked Simoes how he got HIV, to which he responded, “I got it from unprotected sex.”
The complaint then says that “Dr. Borga closed the plaintiff’s file, put it down and looked at plaintiff with disgust on her face and asked, coldly, “Is that from sex with men?”
Simoes says he responded affirmatively and that, “immediately after hearing this, Dr. Borga proceeded to exit the room.”
After this consultation, no nurse or doctor came to see Simoes, even though he told them that he needed to take his HIV medication, according to the complaint.
When the hospital finally permitted Simoes to call his personal physician on the third day of his stay, he learned that the doctor had already spoken with Borga about Simoes’ medication, according to the complaint.
Borga allegedly responded: “You must be gay, too, if you’re his doctor.”
“Additionally, apparently realizing that plaintiff’s doctor had an accent, Dr. Borga exclaimed, ‘What, do you need a translator?’ to which plaintiff’s doctor had again responded that Dr. Borga needed to give plaintiff his HIV medication,” the complaint states.
“Dr. Borga responded to plaintiff’s doctor by stating, ‘This is what he gets for going against God’s will,’ and hung up the phone on plaintiff’s doctor.”

The University of California at San Francisco AIDS Research Institute notes:

Treatment failure may occur rapidly with poor adherence. Some studies suggest that drug resistance can develop after one week of missed medication or irregular use, or after missing as little as one dose in five. When resistance to a drug develops, it loses its effectiveness forever; in some cases, cross-resistance to other drugs occurs, further limiting treatment options.

Joao Simoes says in court documents he missed five doses as a result of the hospital’s actions. Presumably, the trial will reveal what damage was done to his health, daily well-being, and ability to survive was done by the hospital’s actions.

The non-partisan Hastings Center, which focuses on issues of bioethics, states:

  • Conscientious objection in health care cannot be framed solely as an issue of individual rights or beliefs because it always affects someone else’s health or access to care.
  • Health care providers with moral objections to providing specific services have an obligation to minimize disruption in delivery of care and burdens on other providers.

Trinitas Regional Medical Center is a Catholic hospital whose website states it has a “Reverence for Life,” of which it says:

“Recognize and respect the dignity and value of life in every stage and condition.”

Trinitas states its mission is “to provide excellent, compassionate healthcare to the people and communities we serve, including those among us who are poor and vulnerable.”

Hat-tip: Kitschmaven

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ottomarcos June 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Talk about abiding by the "Hypocritical Oath", instead of that Hippocratic one!

grannieannie29 June 4, 2012 at 11:23 am

You stole my thunder, ottomarcos. I was going to state, "First of all, do no harm." Isn't that part of the Hypocratic Oath?

stopthehatestopthehurt June 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm

This hospital better lose millions, and the doctor better lose her license. No questions asked.

They could have cost this man his life.

moseszd June 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I hope like hell this bankrupts them. Sadly though, it'll be some small award and they'll just keep killing people, only they'll be smarter about it so they can't be sued.

iggysblog June 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Sorry, but I doubt the allegation. Not only is the accuser a mental patient, but I find it hard to a believe that a professional M.D, and psychiatrist in a mental hospital working with recently released prisoners – Catholic or not – would be shocked and surprised by gay sex. They must see this almost every day.

jr4949 June 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I've learned that believing every allegation made on blogs is not a good idea. I'm sure you'll get pummeled for your post but I also am withholding judgment. Physicians are not shocked by much.

iggysblog June 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm

The article misspells the Doctor's name: it's Borja, not Borga:

No record of any pubic action against her, and she's been a psychiatrist for 36 years. Which means she's heard everything. But the accuser says she was shocked and stunned at gay sex? Got cold, and shut the file, like it was brand new to her experience?

Sorry, but this just does not compute. It's a lawsuit, and I suspect – like many lawsuits – it doesn't have much validity.

deaf258 June 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm

I guess you missed the point of the lawsuit. And, obviously, you missed the line: "Borg(j)a is not named as a defendant." It was about the hospital's failure to give the patient the necessary medication to help prolong his life.

DonG90806 June 4, 2012 at 12:33 am

Couldn't you just type: "I'm a bigot?" It would be much quicker and more to the point.

jr4949 June 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Why do you think he's a bigot? He's only saying it's hard to determine any validity to the accusations based on this story. I agree with him, too. And I'm certainly no bigot.

iggysblog June 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Wow – negative 49. I guess not automatically believing accusations is a BAD thing to many people. Sad, that.

deaf258 June 3, 2012 at 9:40 pm

While you may be right about Borja and that we shouldn't automatically believe accusations, that's what you get for missing the whole, big picture. Props to you for trying!

jr4949 June 4, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Wait, so it's our responsibility to get all pissed off about a "whole big picture" that may not be true?

Mojohowitz June 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Could this possibly be just the doctor's reaction, not necessarily the hospital as a whole? While the allegations may or may not be true, it does happen. I was treated VERY poorly by a nurse at my local Catholic hospital. I had my partner as my contact person. This nasty nurse erased her name and replaced it with my sister's. The upside is that when it was brought to the head of nursing, the paperwork was corrected, sincere apologies were made and the nurse got a few days off without pay. Since that time, I have had nothing but excellent treatment from this hospital and their staff.

AmericanFellow June 3, 2012 at 11:19 pm

a catholic hospital near my home let my so sleep in the same room with me when i was there for 6 days. clearly they understood that we were a gay couple. but this is in il where people are not as redneck as other states in the union. otoh, a priest in the church where i grew up – also in il – publicly threw out an openly gay man one sunday which became the talk of the town. the priest is still there! so, idk what's happened to the church and why it and its pope act like the very worst sinners. it never was in the past but sure is now

DonG90806 June 4, 2012 at 12:35 am

Don't forget that these are the child rapists who are declining medication to an ill man. So Christ-like!!

Teammm June 4, 2012 at 1:28 am

I'm sorry…I'm the nicest person in the world..but if a doctor did that to me I would have to kick his ass. Plain and simple. I hope that doctor loses everything. I can't stand that amount of dehumanizing disdain, disrespect, prejudice and humiliation. I feel sorry for that patient.

JohnCulhane June 4, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Without knowing whether these allegations are true, it should be mentioned that under broad so-called "conscience objections" there would be no recourse for this man. I think that says enough.

SockMikey June 6, 2012 at 6:13 am

There are a lot more details in the Court Filing.

Joao Simoes vs. Trinitas Regional Medical Center (PDF)

SockMikey June 6, 2012 at 6:13 am

There are a lot more details in the Court Filing.

Joao Simoes vs. Trinitas Regional Medical Center (PDF)

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