Perhaps, the greatest irony about blogging is that it’s very often the posts to which we bloggers devote the least amount of attention that elicit the greatest amount of controversy. I had posted on the president’s hospital visitation order, in large measure, because my take nearly perfectly paralleled that of a the left-leaning lesbian friend who alerted me to the story. We both liked the result, but were concerned about the means.
I put together that post in a matter of minutes, eager to get it done so I could get on with my weekend. And it generated a relatively long thread in a very short amount of time, with solid arguments and intense acrimony.
Later, when I read some of the comments, it was amazing to see how many people, deliberately or not, misrepresented my view on the issue or used the space we offer to make juvenile and/or inaccurate accusations.
That said, amidst the bile, there was some very solid criticism of my free market approach. Darkeyedresolve addressed an issue I should have considered in my initial post:
I’m not sure how of a customer you are when you got into a hospital, most people get rushed to the nearest hospital in the event of emergency. You may not get the same treatment at that hospital as a opposed to the one you frequent, especially in an out of the state situation.
While normally a libertarian, opposed to government mandates, I’ve never had a problem with a government mandate that private hospitals treat people rushed there for emergency treatment. So, in that situation, I would certainly favor requiring hospitals to accede to the patient’s request to have the visitor of his choosing.
The directive allowing visitation appears only to be a reiteration of existing federal policy. Indeed, in those cases, where the same-sex partners of hospitalized patients are denied visitation rights, it appears that either the patient declined to craft said directive or “rogue” personnel at the hospital declined to enforce it. As David Link observes in his post on the Independent Gay Forum:
. . . there have been cases where hospitals have ignored the legally binding documents that same-sex couples have entered into. I don’t imagine this happens a lot any more, but every time it does, it is the most sickening, tangible kind of bigotry.
The problem is not the law then, but the hospital.
I recently read about a horrifying tale where a Washington State lesbian couple had gotten their ducks in a row, so to speak, only have to a nurse ignore their efforts. JoAnn Ritchie and Sharon Reed “had prepared for a medical emergency, creating living wills, advanced directives and power-of-attorney documents.” After JoAnn Ritchie, was hospitalized, dying of liver failure, she was moved to ICU at the University of Washington Medical Center. There, the nurse on duty
. . . refused Sharon access to JoAnn’s room and bedside, continually evicting her from the room. By the time Sharon regained access to her partner the next morning, JoAnn’s condition had deteriorated, and she was heavily drugged. She died within a matter of hours.
Reed has sued and the case is scheduled for trial this month, naming both the nurse and “her employer” as defendants. (From my research, it’s possible that that employer was not the hospital, but an employment agency as it appears the nurse was not a full-time staffer at the hospital.)
The issue here is not the absence of a directive requiring a hospital to follow a directive crafted by one of its patients, but the failure of a staffer at the hospital to recognize that legally binding agreement.
Contrary to what some of my critics might contend, I do hope Reed prevails.