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Lesbian Loses Baby After Santorum-Linked Hospital Tells Couple Domestic Partnership Invalid

by David Badash on August 20, 2012

in News

Post image for Lesbian Loses Baby After Santorum-Linked Hospital Tells Couple Domestic Partnership Invalid

Brittney Leon and Terri-Ann Simonelli, a pregnant same-sex couple, went to a Las Vegas hospital where they were told their legal domestic partnership was invalid, as far as the hospital was concerned. Hours later, after being “emotionally upset” over their treatment, Brittney Leon, the pregnant mother, lost their baby. Nevada has banned same-sex marriage, but a 2009 Nevada law makes domestic partnerships equivalent to marriage, yet Spring Valley Hospital’s official policy is that same-sex couples must secure a power of attorney in order to be able to make medical decisions for each other, or even to be notified of the staus of their loved one.

Ed Vogel, writing at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, explains:

On the wall of their Henderson home, Brittney Leon and Terri-Ann Simonelli proudly display their certificate of domestic partnership.

Under a 2009 state law, the document gives them all the rights of married couples.

Or so they thought.

When Leon, 26, checked into Spring Valley Hospital on July 20 with complications in her pregnancy, she assumed that her partner Simonelli, 41, could make any necessary medical decisions if she suffered unforeseen problems.

But that’s not what happened, they said. An admissions officer told them the hospital policy required gay partners to secure power of attorney before making any medical decisions for each other.

They protested, even offering to go home and return with their domestic partnership document. But they said the admissions officer told them that didn’t matter – Simonelli would need a power of attorney. Considering Leon’s condition, Simonelli wasn’t in a position to argue or spend hours running to a law office. But the admission officer’s words left them devastated in a moment that they already were under extreme stress.

Leon ended up losing her baby.

“I am usually a big fighter. But I was so emotionally upset. It was a very bad day for us,” said Simonelli, a hotel parking valet and website designer. “We went there thinking we had the state’s backing, and then we were told we were wrong. It didn’t matter that we were registered domestic partners.

“It should matter.”

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.

That 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.”

Vogel adds:

Leon and Simonelli said they don’t intend to file a complaint or lawsuit against Spring Valley Hospital. They just hope their problem will lead to more awareness of the domestic partnership law and for fair treatment of gay people.

In April of 2010, as The New Civil Rights Movement reported, President Obama directed the Department of Health and Human Services to draft formal policy that would ensure same-sex couples were afforded the same hospital visitation rights as opposite-sex couples.

For some reason, Spring Valley Hospital in Las Vegas seems to have decided to ignore both state law on domestic partnerships, and federal HHS rules.

The Spring Valley Hospital website states:

Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, Inc.(UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based company, that is one of the largest healthcare management companies in the nation.

Universal Health Services is a “Fortune 500 hospital management company that operates over 100 acute care, behavioral health, and ambulatory facilities,” according to its website.

In a shocking January, 2011 report titled “Rick Santorum-Linked Universal Health Services Facility: Fraud, Assault And Alleged ‘Exorcism‘,” on The Huffington Post, Jason Cherkis reported:

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has become a top-tier candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in recent weeks by appealing to evangelical voters as a man steeped in family values and his Christian faith. From 2007 to 2011, however, Santorum served on the board of directors of Universal Health Services Inc., a large hospital chain which racked up dozens of allegations of abuse during that time — including everything from rape to suicide attempts allowed by neglect to murder.

Over the years, states have barred children from attending UHS facilities over safety concerns and the feds have put UHS on their radar. Department of Justice lawyers have filed two lawsuits accusing the chain of fraudulent activities. One lawsuit settled for $27.5 million. Another suit still pending in federal court in Virginia centers on a facility called Keystone Marion Youth Center.

The facility, located in Marion, Va., is a residential treatment center for troubled boys with mental-health issues. The majority of patients come from states’ child-welfare and juvenile-justice systems. The center promises stability, schooling, and clinically-approved therapies. It was also approved to accept Medicaid patients.

It did not have approval to perform an “exorcism.”

But that is what appeared to be happening in an empty room at Marion in May 2007, according to a facility teacher who passed by the room, which was occupied by at least one nurse, a supervisor, a janitor and a boy with autism. Several in the room appeared to be hovering over the boy and praying, according to the teacher, who recounted the incident shortly after to Barbara Jones, the center’s director of education at the time.

The severity of the boy’s autism left him hardly able to speak and unable to walk on his own, Jones says.

“‘They were trying to exorcise him. That’s why he had the autism, he had a demon in him,’” Jones recounted what the teacher told her to The Huffington Post. “The cleaning lady was trying to cast out the demons.”

 

Hat tip: Towleroad

Image via Facebook

Related: 

“Obamacare” — How The Affordable Care Act Helps Gays

Tennessee Lesbian Denied Hospital Visitation Rights

 

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