FRESNO — Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno has agreed to make policy changes and conduct staff trainings to ensure that the rights of its LGBT patients and family members are properly respected, according to the ACLU.
The changes are in response to a demand letter by American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of a lesbian who was barred from visiting her partner and giving advice about her treatment at the hospital.
On May 29, 2009, Kristin Orbin was rushed to the emergency room after suffering from an epileptic seizure. She and her partner of four years, Teresa Rowe, had traveled from the Bay Area to Fresno to attend a rally in support of marriage for same-sex couples.
Although Rowe, who grew up in nearby Clovis, California, was well aware of Orbin’s medical history and how she responded to various medications, hospital staff refused to allow her to speak with the doctors treating Orbin or to visit with her.
As a result, Orbin was given medication she didn’t need and which caused her unnecessary pain. After the couple had been separated for several hours, Orbin finally saw her doctor. She complained to him, and Rowe was eventually allowed to be with her.
“While an apology would have been nice, we are pleased that this incident will help put an end to unfair treatment of LGBT patients and their family members,” said Rowe.
“But while the policy changes are extremely welcome and necessary, this incident has also underscored that, ultimately, allowing same-sex couples to marry is the only way to guarantee the respect and recognition that will prevent this kind of treatment,” she said.
According to the letter Community Medical Centers sent to the ACLU and NCLR, the hospital is in the early stages of reviewing all its policies dealing with LGBT patients and foresees further changes in addition to the promised training and policy changes. It has also agreed to keep the ACLU and NCLR apprised of its progress.