Hospital tells lesbian domestic partners “you need medical power of attorney”

Hospital tells lesbian domestic partners “you need medical power of attorney”

At Spring Valley Hospital, in Las Vegas, Nevada,  a lesbian couple – Brittney Leon and Terri-Ann Simonelli – was told at admissions that even though they had a legal domestic partnership, they would need a medical power of attorney for one gay partner to make decisions in the event of a crisis.

Brittney Leon was checking into the hospital for complications related to her pregnancy.  During the admittance, the admissions officer informed the couple that the hospital policy required gay couples to have a medical power of attorney.  Even though the couple offered to go home and get their certificate designating them as legal domestic partners, the admissions officer said that it wouldn’t matter – the policy was the policy.

In Nevada, the domestic partnership law passed in 2009 provides all the rights of married couples.

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

A woman who identified herself as public relations representative at Spring Valley Hospital told a Review-Journal reporter in a phone interview that the hospital policy requires gay couples have power of attorney in order to make medical decisions for each other .

When asked if she was aware of Nevada’s domestic partnership law, she accused the reporter of bias and hung up the telephone.

The domestic partnership law states: “Domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.”

What confuses me is no one has brought up that on April 15, 2010, the White House released a statement by Obama instructing his Health and Human Services secretary to draft rules requiring hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments to grant all patients the right to designate people who can visit and respect patients’ choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them. That should have come into play here, domestic partnership or not, no?

The couple says they don’t intend to file a complaint or lawsuit against Spring Valley Hospital. But they do hope their problem will lead to more awareness of the domestic partnership law and for fair treatment of gay people.

Sadly, in the addition to the stress at admissions, Leon lost her baby.