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Creep of the Week: Jackson Memorial Hospital

By |2018-01-16T13:53:08-05:00June 28th, 2007|Opinions|

“That’s against company policy.”
“We have to follow our regulations.”
“I’m not authorized to authorize that.”
“The rules are the rules.”
We’ve all heard these excuses at some point in our lives. Often they are the result of when a seemingly reasonable request on your part reaches the height of impossibility after being sent through the corporate-speak bullshit filter. Receiving one of these responses is incredibly annoying, but the result is usually a minor inconvenience, like being told you can’t take your Starbucks Cafe Au Lait on the airplane even though you bought it after the security checkpoint.
I haven’t done a scientific survey or anything, but I’m willing to bet that gay and lesbian couples are subject to these kinds of excuses more than their heterosexual counterparts. After all, same-sex couples aren’t legally recognized and so there’s a whole host of benefits, exemptions, policies and the like that we’re either cut out of or that are made specifically to cut us out. Not being able to get a family membership at the local gym, for example, isn’t going to be the end of the world, yet each one of these incidents foreshadows far more devastating possibilities for same-sex couples.
Couples like Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond of Olympia, Washington, for example. The 18 years they’d spent together, the domestic partnership status they had in their home state and the three legally adopted children between them meant nothing to officials at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami when Pond was admitted after a brain aneurysm.
The couple’s three children, who were with Langbehn and Pond en route to a family vacation on an R Family Vacations cruise ship, were not allowed to be at Pond’s side and Langbehn’s right to make medical decisions wasn’t recognized.
According to a June 17, 2007 article in The Olympian, “After Pond was taken to the emergency room, Langbehn said she was informed by a social worker that they were in an ‘anti-gay state’ and that they needed legal paperwork before Langbehn could see Pond.”
But even after a friend faxed their legal paperwork from Washington, that didn’t seem to sway the hospital much. Apparently one state’s bigotry trumps another state’s laws.
The Olympian reported that Langbehn “wasn’t allowed to see Pond again until a priest arrived to give Pond the Anointing of the Sick, also commonly known as Last Rites.”
How ironic, then, that the first thing visitors see when they log onto Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Web site is a banner proclaiming “Our Values: Compassion.” Other featured values include respect and commitment (see for yourself at But apparently not respect and compassion for commitment if that commitment is between two women.
Langbehn spoke out about her experience at a Pride event this month even though she’d lost her partner just four months earlier. “I want people to be able to hold their partner’s hand in their moment of death,” she said, according to The Olympian.
Is being by your partner’s side as she dies a special right? You bet. And one only a monster would deny, policy or no.

About the Author:

D'Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.
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