2009 HRC Health Equality Index

Lisa’s Legacy for all hospitals and health care providers to remember and take to heart as LGBT families must be treated as equals in medical crisis.  Here is the opening to the index – when I have a link to the whole report I will post it.  Thank you to Tom Sullivan.  For now here is the link to what the index is:

http://www.hrc.org/issues/13606.htm

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The 2010 Healthcare Equality Index is Dedicated to the Memory of Lisa Pond and the Advocacy of Her Partner, Janice Langbehn.

Their stories have helped changed the healthcare landscape for all LGBT People.

In the first edition of the Healthcare Equality Index, we shared the story of Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond. They were on vacation with their children in Miami in February 2007 when tragedy struck. Lisa suffered a brain aneurysm and was rushed to the emergency room at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. When Janice arrived with the children, she was told she was in “an anti-gay city and state” and would need a healthcare proxy before she was allowed to see her partner of nearly 18 years or know of her condition. Even after the documents were faxed to the hospital by a friend, it took hours before Janice was finally allowed to see Lisa. Sadly, it was with a priest to perform Last Rites.

In the three year’s since Lisa’s death, Janice has worked tirelessly to insure that no other family should have to suffer through these indignities. As Janice has maintained throughout, this is not about a “gay right; it’s about a human right” to decide who should be with you during an illness.

Earlier this year, after intense lobbying efforts and discussions with hospital administrators by a coalition of local and national LGBT activists, Jackson Memorial finally announced the implementation of new policies protecting the rights of LGBT patients and their families. Among these policy changes is an LGBT inclusive definition of family. The hospital’s announcement did not, however, address the need for grievance procedures or include a formal apology to the Langbehn-Pond family.

Then, on April 15, 2010, Janice received a phone call from President Obama, who had just signed a memorandum ordering the development of federal regulations directly addressing the type of discriminatory treatment her family had experienced in Miami.  Reflecting on the conversation, Janice wrote on her blog “In those short minutes of speaking with our President, it was clear he got the issue, and now in reading his memorandum, he understood what happened to Lisa, the kids and I was wrong on many level s- especially on the human level.  None of this brings Lisa back.  But what it does do – for the next gay couple – is that hopefully if your partner is dying you won’t be locked behind a door for eight hours as they slip from this earth and not be allowed to say goodbye.”

We all owe a great deal of thanks to Janice. Her efforts in the aftermath of personal tragedy have made the healthcare industry take notice of the type of discrimination that LGBT families face in healthcare settings. More importantly, it has changed the landscape so that in the future, no person is subjected to this treatment. We are indebted to Janice for her advocacy.

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