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San Francisco lesbian barred from visiting partner in hospital

Nell Frizzell June 16, 2009
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A gay woman from San Francisco was prevented from visiting her partner in hospital after she suffered a seizure.

The couple had been taking part in a ‘Meet in the Middle’ rally in support of same-sex marriage, when Kristin Orbin, who suffers from epilepsy, had a seizure.

Although Orbin’s partner of four years, Teresa Rowe, was allowed to travel with her to the Fresno Community Regional Medical Center in the ambulance, the driver would not allow Rowe to go in to the emergency room with her partner.

“We just couldn’t believe this was happening to us. This was the nightmare that we hoped we’d never have to live through,” said Rowe.

Rowe is named as her partner’s legal health care agent, but was still stopped from seeing Orbin and speaking to her doctor.

When Rowe tried to relay a message to the doctors that Orbin should not be given the drug Antivan, she was told that the message would not get passed on.

“They ended up giving her the exact medication I repeatedly asked them not to give her,” explained Rowe. This failure to pass on information about treatment caused Orbin to experience unnecessary pain.

Although the couple were told that no visitors were allowed in to the treatment area, other patients were seen receiving guests during this period.

The case has now been picked up by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who have sent a letter to the hospital accusing it of discriminating against the couple because of their sexual orientation.

“Discrimination in healthcare settings is still far too common for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Jason Schneider MD, president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

The ACLU has asked the hospital to respond by June 22nd.

Related topics: Americas

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