some change has come

Hello everyone; I wanted to give everyone who supports our family a person email (if there is such a thing) about the progress made at Jackson Memorial Hospital so that no LGBT individual or family endure what our family did in February 2007.  This mutual change to policies by the hospital and spearheaded by multiple organizations allows for patient visitation which re-defines how Jackson Memorial Healthy System treats same-sex couples in the future.  I don’t want anyone who has supported us to feel defeated because the Lawsuit was dismissed because Florida as whole does not protect same sex couples from discrimination. It has been my intention since I filed my first complaint with JMH back in March 2007, that the hospital would realize they acted improperly, that Lisa was forced to die alone due to some staff’s personal judgement of our family.  And ultimately to apologize for keeping the kids and I away from list for nearly 8 hours – and those being the last 8 hours she was alive.

I am humbled that by our children and myself standing up for our rights, our voices would lead to drastic changes at one of the largest Health Systems in Florida State.  I want to personally thank the following individuals for either the support they provided at the time of Lisa’s death and those who have been there for our family for the pat 3+years.   Forgive me for the following format but there are so many important individuals to thank – that this is the only way I can get it done in a timely manner.  Also by doing a list, inevitably I will forget someone and it is not intentional in any way as well as this list is in no particular order or importance.  As for the Langehn and Pond families  – I hope you all know how much I have appreciated your help at the time of the crisis and the ongoing support as I fought for these changes to that no gay families during a medical crisis are treated as if they were strangers.

Beth Littrell, Lambda Legal – lead attorney, the absolute best attorney fight daily and making the case for Equality

Rick Hill, Lambda Legal – by far one of the most important individuals at Lambda who has walked my path before and helped me find my way back when I strayed

Kevin Cathcart, Ex. Director of Lambda Legal – who is at the helm of a ship that is charting the waters for change LGBT and person with HIV – and making sure the waters are safe and equal for all Americans

Don Hayden, Baker  & McKenzie – co attorney (and the entire firm of Baker & McKenzie for representing our family pro-bono)

Mutiple staff from Lambda Legal through the past 3 years. Judi, Bev, Tiq

Cindi Creager & Adam Bass- GLAAD, Cindi was the first professional in the LGBT community to formally hear of our story and guided me and gave me a voice for change that I did not existed

Anna Schlecht- the first person who asked me to tell our story at Olympia Pride in June 2007

Rosie & Kelli O’Donnell – hearing of Lisa’s death and that we were on our way to a dream vacation on Rfamily, Rosie and Kelli sent flowers for Lisa’s memorial and offered for our family to return on any future cruise

Gregg Kamisky & Kelli O’Donnell (co-founders of Rfamily vacations) for providing us with 3 cruises and helping 2 close families to come with us on the cruises to keep me company

Jenn Chrisler – Family Equality Council – who was on the Rfamily Cruise in Feb 2007, found out about our family and then asked me to speak at their Annual Media Awards in October 2007.

Individuals from Florida Equality & Save Dade

Jim B. – GLMA (Gay/Lesbian Medical Association)

Myanna Carbin O’Brien – a friend of fate thanks to the Rfamily vacation forums.

Dr. Jan Ball – Lisa and my family doc who was there for me via phone during the crisis, providing her medical knowledge to help me understand what was happening that ight in February 3000 miles from home.

Group Health Cooperative (our family’s health plan)  including their Chief Medical Officer, who heard me speak at GLMA and went about on their own accord to reviewed all thier policies (in October 2008) so what happened to our family in FL at JMH would not happen at any Group Health Facility

Kelly Ziegler and Bill Walker – for being with me at my first large speaking even in LA

LAORA – Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency – for Yillian after-care coordinator and Maggie the RN who took such amazing care of Lisa until it was time for Lisa to donate her organs.  And for LAORA to have an expansive definition of family and the only medical professionals at JMH during the 5 days Lisa was cared for – allowed me to sign as Lisa’s Spouse when it was time to donate her organs.

Jerry and the 3 unknown recipients of Lisa’s organs.  I know Lisa’s heart is in the best of hand, thank you beyond words Jerry.  And I continue to get updates on those who received Lisa’s kidneys and liver and am pleased they are all doing fine.

Thank you all, this email is not intended to be used in any media for comments or posting, I just wanted to be able to say thank you to all those who didn’t let Lisa’s death without dignity go unnoticed and fought along side me for changes at Jackson Memorial.

Peace

Janice

The press release about the changes to policies at Jackson Memorial can be found by many different organizations involved.

Fla. hospital that discriminated against lesbian family changes policy

Monday, April 12th, 2010

When Lisa Pond, 39, collapsed suddenly before she and her family embarked on a Rosie cruise, her partner Janice Langbehn was told by the Florida hospital that she wouldn’t be recognized or acknowledged as part of Pond’s family. She filed suit [1].

The case was dismissed by a federal court [2] last fall, but today Lambda Legal announced that the hospital had changed it’s policies. See Lambda Legal’s press release below.

(Miami, Fl.) Today, Lambda Legal, its coalition partners, and officials from Jackson Health System (JHS) released a statement announcing the hospital’s improved policies that are more responsive to the needs of the LGBT community but do not provide as much protection as may be needed in critical situations. Lambda Legal urges Jackson Memorial Hospital to enact a full grievance procedure and also to issue an apology to the Langbehn-Pond family.

“Lambda Legal applauds Jackson Memorial’s work with the coalition to review and expand policies and training materials to help address the needs of same-sex couples and their families, but we urge the hospital to finish the job,” said Beth Littrell, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta, who was lead counsel on Langbehn v. Jackson Memorial. “The hospital should issue an official apology to the Langbehn-Pond family and JHS should have a grievance procedure in the case of visitation denial that can be acted on quickly in an emergency situation.”

“Jackson Memorial Hospital should have been able to provide immediate resources to Janice Langbehn when she wasn’t allowed to be with her partner Lisa hour after hour as she lay dying in the hospital. We don’t want the Langbehn-Pond nightmare to happen to another family,” Littrell added.

Last September, the Court rejected Lambda Legal’s lawsuit [3] filed against Jackson Memorial Hospital on behalf of Janice Langbehn, ruling that no law required the hospital to allow her and their three children to see her partner, Lisa Pond. Langbehn and the children were kept apart from Pond by hospital staff for eight hours as Pond slipped into a coma and died. Since then, Lambda Legal has been working with other LGBT organizations and hospital officials to address the policies that leave many same-sex couples and their families vulnerable during critical times.

After a year of reviewing JHS policies, the LGBT coalition recommended several policy changes that the hospital adopted. The hospital developed and implemented a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, a patient’s bill of rights that demonstrates the hospital’s commitment to providing quality care for LGBT patients, and a visitation policy that updates the definition of family to include same-sex partners and other people who may not be legally related to a patient. JHS does not have a complete grievance procedure to ensure compliance with the policy in cases of emergency.

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