Same Sex Hospital Discrimination Claim

June 16, 2009 12:50:30 AM PDT
Thousands took part in the March and Rally in support of same sex marriage last month. Kristen Orbin, and her partner Theresa Rowe were in the crowd. But after the march, Kristen suffered a seizure. She was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center, by ambulance, where she says she got a less than friendly welcome."The nurse seemed upset that we had done the 14 mile march, and that we had come from a marriage equality event."

Kristen was told that her partner, Theresa could not accompany her in the emergency room.

"And I looked around and saw that other people had visitors and when I asked why she said because those people are different." She said.

Theresa claims she wanted to be with Kristen to make sure they didn't give her the wrong medication. She says they did anyway, and Kristen suffered side effects. Elisabeth Gill, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in San Francisco is representing the couple and says a lawsuit against the hospital is a possibility.

"Oh definitely, but we hope unnecessary. "The hospital is the last place where we should accept discrimination. We're hoping this is an isolated incident at this hospital." She said.

But in a statement, the hospital denies any discrimination occurred. The statement reads in part:" We've done an internal investigation and found nothing inappropriate?In the interest of other patients privacy, visitation in a busy emergency unit often must be constrained."

But a Fresno man, Jon Carroll says he was unable to see his partner before he died of a heart attack because the hospital didn't recognize their relationship.

"If you say, I'm their spouse, I'm their partner, then obviously your same sex spouse or partner then automatically you're put in a different situation." Carroll's incident occurred ten years ago. Kristen says it's time for things to change.

"I want the hospital to apologize, a sincere apology."

The ACLU has sent the hospital a letter and given them a week to come up with a suitable response. A spokesperson for Community Medical Center says the couple was never questioned about the status of their relationship, and says the hospital allows any visitor the patient wants so long as it doesn't interfere with other patients or the operation of the hospital.

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