A Tennessee hospital that denied a lesbian patient her legal rights of visitation by her same-sex partner is the focus of outrage today, and being called upon explain. Rolling Hills Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee, “denied multiple requests by Val Burke to visit her partner, who is currently a patient in the hospital’s residential facility. Staff members excluded her from the room since she was not a legal spouse or family member,” according to a report today in Out & About:
“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.
“(This) is a very troubling report and it reminds us of the importance of this rule change that recently went into effect,” he says. “When we are at our most vulnerable, we need to be able to choose who visits us in the hospital.”
In April, 2010, President Obama directed the Department of Health and Human Services to draft formal policy that would ensure same-sex couples were afforded the same hospital visitation rights as opposite-sex couples. In November of last year, those rules were announced.
Rolling Hills Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee has had over a year to train its employees and apparently, given this report, has failed to do so, in what would appear to be a violation of federal regulations — not to mention, common decency.
On their website, Rolling Hills offers a statement from their CEO, Richard Bangert, that says, “We trust that your experience with our expert clinical hospital staff will provide you with personal care that is compassionate and respectful of both the patient and their families.”
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