Obama orders same-sex hospital visits

  1. 7
    "Gay, lesbian couples must be allowed visitors, medical power of attorney.

    President Obama mandated Thursday that nearly all hospitals extend visitation rights to the partners of gay men and lesbians and respect patients' choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them, perhaps the most significant step so far in his efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans."


  2. Enjoy this?

    Join thousands and get our weekly Nursing Insights newsletter with the hottest, discussions, articles, and toons.

  3. 50 Comments...

  4. 17
    Seriously, it's about time. I would hate to think however how some religious hospitals (particularly ones that are Catholic) will find ways to circumvent this.
    apocatastasis, StayLost, ToxicShock, and 14 others like this.
  5. 1
    Obama has had a team in place since day one to find ways to mitigate or reverse discrimination against gays that did not require congress to act (that is making new or repealing laws). This particular plan was in the works for quite some time, however a recent event in Florida caused Obama to bring things forward.

    Administration officals have been speaking with heads of hospitals, and healthcare networks, including the nun who heads the Catholic healthcare system, and she (according to media reports), said there wouldn't be a "problem". That was all it took and Obama made the annoucement the next day or so.

    Most persons have no problem with this, even those against "gay marriage". Hospitals do have problems with being the ones caught in the middle between family disputes, and it often falls down to the nurse or charge nurse on duty to sort things out, but that is small beer now. What is done is done and we shall all have to bear it as best we can.

    By the way there probably won't be any legal action, as the SCOTUS long ago rule the federal government can attach strings to funds, if a person or business does not like the conditions, simply refuse the money.

    It was the creation of Medicare and Medicaid that caused hospitals in the United States to become racially mixed, as the federal government stated hospitals had to comply with various civil rights laws to get into the program.

    The only problem one sees is that Medicare and Medicaid are already seen by the healthcare community as costing much in terms of compliance while paying very little in terms of reimbursement. Sooner or later a hospital might wish to take look at what they are getting for staying in the program, versus opting out, such as the recent decision by the Mayo Clinic. Mind you your average hospital, especially those serving urban areas aren't really in a financial position to turn up their noses at Medicare or Medicaid patients.
    PhoenixTech likes this.
  6. 7
    This is a wonderful thing.
    SnowShoeRN, StayLost, HazelLPN, and 4 others like this.
  7. 3
    Should llike to point out that although this rule was designed to benefit gays, it is worded as to apply to *all* patients.

    So if your daughter, son, husband or whatever is in hospital and directs someone else other than yourself to make decisions about their care, and or who gets first dibs on visitation/remaining at bedside, you are now out of luck, and will be chucked out regardless of family or blood relationship. Methinks hospitals aren't going to wish to get caught up in this and risk ticking off the Obama administration, and will follow the rules to the letter. If a patient's family has problems with the rule and how it is applied they will have to turn to the courts or elsewhere for satisfaction.

    For nurses, this is probably going to result in some interesting situations when a wife or husband turns up at hospital and finds themselves not in charge by right, but anyone else from a mistress to a spouse's parents named to be calling the shots.
    RetRN77, kcochrane, and corky1272RN like this.
  8. 2
    Question...If blood family and partner have a dispute about care, and the partner is not a married partner, doesn't blood family still trump the partner legally?

    If they are living in a state that doesn't allow gay marriage how long do the partners need to be together to get legal "partner" status. And what paperwork do they need to prove it? If the patient isn't concious to indicate who their real NOK is, that is.
    Not_A_Hat_Person and tewdles like this.
  9. 0
    Quote from canoehead
    Question...If blood family and partner have a dispute about care, and the partner is not a married partner, doesn't blood family still trump the partner legally?

    If they are living in a state that doesn't allow gay marriage how long do the partners need to be together to get legal "partner" status. And what paperwork do they need to prove it? If the patient isn't concious to indicate who their real NOK is, that is.
    This is my question too.
  10. 0
    Visitation is normally different from who makes medical decisions on a patient's behalf.

    Prior to this law, unless there was a directive otherwise (power of attorney, living will, etc), decisions about care flowed according to state law, which most always moved via blood relationships with legal spouse, children, parents, adult siblings, and so forth down the line.

    Visitation normally from what one has seen really has been everything go lately for most of the floors, that is most anyone can go in, however there are usually limits on the number, well in theory anyway. The exception to this would be the units and L&D, where normally only the husband and or father of the child (the two don't always go together anymore), or someone else the mother wishes in there.

    IIRC, what this new rule was meant to address is cases such as the recent one in Florida when someone "unrelated" or realted only by common law shows up requesting visitation rights and or wishes to be involved in decision making regarding care. Normally such things happen as above, but in this case there was a lesbian who was denied entry to a CC unit where her partner was being cared for. According to published reports both the lesbian and the couples children were not admitted because they weren't legal next of kin. The patient died and the partner sued the hospital. However she lost in court because Florida does not have laws such as those in NY or other states that mandate such visits. Apparently Obama telephoned this woman Thursday before making the annoucement regarding the new rule.

    It is important to remember under this rule a patient/person has to have some sort of legal directive naming a person he or she wishes to be responsible for care and so forth. Of course if the person is awake and sane he or she can make their wishes known verbally and one supposes it would be charted and that would be that.

    If one understands the rule correctly, say one's elderly father has shacked up with a woman, and one day has a heart attack leaving him in critical condition and unable to express his wishes. If there isn't some sort of legally binding directive naming this woman as "the one", then the normal family rights according to state law would probably take place.

    Am hoping, but could be wrong that a person could show up with photos, emails and other things to "prove" they had some sort of relationship with the patient and therefore have "squatters rights" as it were. That would put hospitals and healthcare staff in between a rock and a hard place. They would have to sort out who out ranks whom. Pity the poor nurse working nights or weekends and gets an admission along these lines.
  11. 3
    Finally a political decision I can cheer for. I believe that in a lot of states couple can registered in the domestic partner registry, which would give a legal base for extending partner benefits. Also, I'm sure that having a power of attorney would be enough to secure one's partners right to make decisions in life or death situations. To be on the safe side, one can also draw a living will, which will specify who is to make decisions on the behalf of the patient.
    nursel56, sharpeimom, and Faeriewand like this.
  12. 12
    Wow...I don't know where everyone else has been but I have taken care of many gay patients over the years and visitation was never ever an issue. And if they had executed a POA there was no question of its validity! I am in the South and have been most of my nursing career. Where have these discriminatory practices been the standard? Not in my world!Since these practices have obviously existed, of course the visitation rule is a good thing. My brother is gay and I cannot imagine him being denied access to his partner!

Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.