Missouri Hospital Incident Highlights Need for Awareness & Training on LGBT Health Protections


Scout

Scout, Ph.D.
Director, The Fenway Institute’s Network for LGBT Health Equity

This morning Bill Snook at Kansas City Department of Health informed us of a sad incident that occurred at one of their hospitals. According to reports, a gay man was denied access to his partner because the hospital refused to acknowledge him as family. (read more of the details in the Huffington Post piece here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/11/gay-man-arrested-missouri-hospital_n_3060488.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009). Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 5.16.56 PM

Unfortunately, this looks like it could be another example where new policies protecting LGBT health rights are not promoted as widely as needed. Obama’s presidential order from nearly two years ago clearly said any hospital who wanted to get Medicaid or Medicare payments must treat same-sex partners as family. Later clarifications even went further, making sure hospitals went out of their way to allow patients to designate partners who would have powers beyond simply visitation. We were also very enthusiastic when the HHS Office of Civil Rights assured us they would actively investigate any reports of LGBT health discrimination.

New Joint Commission regulations go even further in protecting the rights of LGBT patients. But sometimes it’s hard to even figure out if a hospital has adopted the new non-discrimination regulations.

It is one of our larger concerns that many of the new protections for LGBT health aren’t getting the promotion needed so everyone knows how we deserve equal treatment in health, and what to do if we don’t get equal treatment.

Luckily we’re very happy that through amazing agencies like PROMO and Sage in Missouri – this hospital will be offered free resources on how to change their policies to not just offer new protections but also share that information with patients. They will also be offered free resources for culturally competent trainings. But in our work with Sage & PROMO on their health policy project it’s already become apparent – passing protective policies is only half the battle, we need to educate LGBT people and hospitals about the protections these new policies offer before real change will come.

For today, our thoughts are with Roger Gorley and his partner as they deal with something no one in this country should have to face.

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