Monday, October 5, 2009

Janice Langbehn Hospital Visitation Case Dismissed

Langbehn and her three children by Karie Hamilton, New York Times

A federal court in Miami threw out the case of Janice Langbehn, a lesbian denied the right to visit her dying partner in a Florida hospital, saying that no law required the hospital to admit visitors.

Langbehn, a Washington state resident, filed the suit against Jackson Memorial Hospital after Lisa Pond, her partner of 17 years, died there in 2007. Pond suffered a brain aneurysm prior to a Caribbean gay cruise with their three children, and a hospital social worker refused to let Langbehn visit her dying partner, allegedly saying that Florida was “an antigay state.”

The court ruled in favor of the hospital, according to The Miami Herald, in a decision that Langbehn’s attorney called “extreme.”

"The hospital took the position that we thought was pretty extreme -- that it has no duty, no legal obligation, to allow visitors [of any sort] in the hospital. The court agreed,'' said Beth Littrell, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, according to the Herald. "We're obviously devastated and disappointed in this decision," Littrell said. "It highlights how vulnerable same-sex couples and their families are."

Jackson Memorial denied that it treats gay patients and their families any differently from other patients. "We have always believed and known that the staff at Jackson treats everyone equally, and that their main concern is the well-being of the patients in their care," Jackson spokeswoman Jennifer Piedra said in a news release. "At Jackson Health System, we believe in a culture of inclusion. For more than 90 years, the institution has taken great pride in serving everyone who enters its doors, regardless of race, creed, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. We also employ a very diverse workforce, one that mirrors the community we serve."

Added Piedra: "Jackson will continue to work with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to ensure that everyone knows they are welcome at all of our facilities, where they will receive the highest quality of medical care."

To read more on this story, click here or here.

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