The Widdershins

This is *not* supposed to be happening

Posted on: April 23, 2013


Roger and Allen

[Note:  I was originally going to do this post last week but the events of the week and my internet issues prevented that]

Missouri Man Arrested For Refusing To Leave His Husband’s Hospital Bedside

Roger Gorley and Allen Mansell were married five years ago although it’s not recognized in Missouri where they live.  They’ve done things together that most couples have done, they live in the same house, have bought cars together and have financial investments together.  In short, they are a couple.  They have even registered with the state to show they are a couple.  They wanted to be recognized as “significant life partners”.  This was important to them because Allen suffered from a number of debilitating health conditions, including depression, and wanted Roger to be recognized as the party to be responsible along with him for his health decisions and to be by his side.  Although Allen has family members, it appears they do not approve of the relationship nor have they been included in any way in making decisions about Allen’s healthcare or other issues.  To quote Roger’s daughter:

Allen made sure over the past 20 years to NOT involve his family in his medical care.  NONE of them are on his HIPAA nor are any of them supposed to have any say over what happens to him medically. They have each been granted power of attorney over each other for medical decisions.  This information is not only ON FILE with Research Medical Center, they are well known at the hospital and throughout the city as a proud gay couple.  No one has ever had a problem until Tuesday 4/9/2012.

Cut to a day when Allen and Roger’s daughter were out and about taking care of some things before a planned trip by the couple to Amsterdam.  Allen’s depression had been so bad that his psychiatrist had suggested, and Allen had started, ECT, electroshock therapy.  Amanda, Roger’s daughter who has helped with Allen’s care said that Allen was “doing pretty well for Allen” but when they got back to the couple’s house, Allen’s brother Lee and a sister Pat were waiting there.  Right behind Amanda were members of the Lee’s Summit Police Dept. and paramedics.  Cutting to the chase, the paramedics and police decided that Allen might be a threat to himself and he was bundled off to Research Medical Center in Kansas City.  RMC, by the way is only where Allen gets his shock therapy done.  His primary hospital is St. Luke’s in Lee Summit.

Amanda had contacted her father who was on his way to the hospital.  When he got there, well I’ll let Amanda tell it:

Roger immediately rushed to Allen’s side, grabbed his hand, and reassured him everything will be ok.  He will handle everything.  He is in good hands and they will be going home as soon as possible. His brother Lee decided to say similar things but to also add in that he will not allow Roger to make these decisions and he will make sure everything is ok. Well that ignited the fire in my father that had been swelling up inside of him.  He said, “No you won’t! This is my husband.  I know what he wants and needs.  You are never around.  You need to leave.”

The nurse had had enough at this point and asked my father to leave.  He gave her a surprised look back and said “No I’m staying with my husband.” She responded with “I know who you two are.  You need to leave.” My father took this as she had treated Allen before, knew who my father was to him, and was making the decision that they didn’t have the right to one another as husband and husband. So instead of checking the file to see his power of attorney in his medical chart (they each have one for each other) she immediately called the police and had my father forcibly removed.

Roger was arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing.  Further, RMC got a restraining order against Roger preventing him going back to see Allen.  It took him three hours to get out of jail and he had to pay a $600 fine.

Once all of this started hitting the news, Research Medical Center issued a statement which read:

“We believe involving the family is an important part of the patient care process,” the hospital said in a statement. “And, the patient`s needs are always our first priority. When anyone becomes disruptive to providing the necessary patient care, we involve our security team to help calm the situation and to protect our patients and staff. If the situation continues to escalate, we have no choice but to request police assistance.”

But, had the hospital checked its own records it would have seen the valid power of attorney was on file.

John Aravosis wrote on this story and said:

the hospital claims that Gorley was asked to leave because he wouldn’t quiet down.  But at the same time, the hospital claims that Gorley was asked to show his medical power of attorney for his partner Allen, and couldn’t provide it. Leading to the proverbial: ruh roh.”

“By admitting that they asked Roger Gorley to prove that he had medical power of attorney for his spouse, Allen, the hospital admits that things would have turned out differently had Gorley had the proof on his person.”

Aravosis adds further:

A) I interviewed the Medicare and Medicaid office in Washington yesterday, and got the complete details of the hospital visitation regulations.  Roger didn’t need to provide any proof of his medical power of attorney, or anything else for that matter, if, as his daughter claims, patient Allen said, during the altercation, “I want him here.”

Under federal regulations, that is all that is needed, the argument ends.  So why did the hospital ask gay Roger to prove his power of attorney?

B) Let’s assume, devil’s advocate, that the daughter is wrong, and patient Allen did not ask for Roger to stay (perhaps he was unconscious).

Federal regs say that the partner can simply say “I’m in charge,” and that’s enough UNLESS someone else asserts that they too are in charge of the patient, which appears to have happened here when Allen’s straight brother also stepped in and asserted his authority  Here’s what the regs say happens next, and I quote the federal guideline accompanying the regs:

“In such cases [when more than one individual claims to be the patient’s representative], it would be appropriate for the hospital to ask each individual for documentation supporting his/her claim to be the patient’s representative.  The hospital should make its determination of who is the patient’s representative based upon the hospital’s determination of who the patient would most want to make decisions on his/her behalf.  Examples of documentation a hospital might consider could include, but are not limited to, the following:  proof of a legally recognized marriage, domestic partnership, or civil union; proof of a joint household; proof of shared or co-mingled finances; and any other documentation the hospital considers evidence of a special relationship that indicates familiarity with the patient’s preferences concerning medical treatment.”

There’s more about this and you can read it here, here, and here.

However, this does get even better, or worse as the case may be when the hospital changed its story.

Oh but it gets worse. According to the police report, the hospital told the cops that the reason they ejected Roger was because the hospital “did not want to have any visitors to Allen’s room.”

But that flat-out contradicts the hospital spokesman today claiming that Roger was ejected, not because they wanted no visitors, but rather because of the fight.  And, if they didn’t want anyone in the room, then it wouldn’t have mattered if Roger had had a medical power of attorney, so why did they ask for it?  And if they wanted no visitors in the room, then why does daughter Amanda say that they were all permitted to stay in the room after the police took Roger away?

Not to mention, if the hospital wanted NO visitors in the room, then how did the other visitors witness Roger’s arrest?  That would mean that the witnesses, including Roger’s daughter and straight Lee, also refused the hospital’s request for them to leave – since the hospital wanted “no one” in the room, and they were still there when the hospital security and ultimately the police arrived.  Thus, they too were disobeying the hospital’s order to leave and were also trespassing, if the hospital is now telling the truth about what happened.  Then why weren’t Amanda and straight Lee arrested too?

It seems that Research Medical Center did a pretty awful job of training their staff on the (at first) Memorandum on extending visiting rights for same sex couples and then the subsequent rules and regulations that CMS implemented, with the news release saying:

Medicare finalizes new rules to require equal visitation rights for all hospital patients

New requirements empower patients to designate their own visitors, 
including a same-sex domestic partner

And I have to wonder how well the training “took”, when a former RMC employee still employed by the parent company HCA, puts this on her facebook page:  “It makes news because of the fags.”

Now if recognition of gay marriage was the law of the land, then most likely none of this would have happened and ole Paula Grant would not have had to make her comments about fags.


26 Responses to "This is *not* supposed to be happening"

We had a similar snafu in Miami when a woman became gravely ill on a cruise ship and was refused all courtesies despite having durable power of attorney and being a documented health care surrogate. One of the hospital social workers, a giant dumbass, went so far as to tell her that this is not a gay-friendly area, Maybe Northern Florida, but this area most certainly is. That was the index case that got everything changed,
A word of advice: should you find yourself in that position, quickly and quietly call the ACLU, an attorney or the local media if the hospital refuses to acknowledge your paperwork.

After reading Aravosis’ articles on this, it seems that all Allen would have had to say is “I want him here” or for Roger to say “I’m in charge” according to those revised regs from CMS. In my opinion this was an epic fail by the hospital and staff. The fact that they had Roger arrested is beyond belief. Then the subsequent changing stories by RMC gives proof, imho, to the lie.

Chat, I do seem to remember that incident about the woman on the ship. That was an awful mess too.

This makes me so upset. I can’t imagine the horrible, helplessness Roger and Allen felt at a time when they needed each other most. What the hell is wrong with people?

Off topic but Jon Stewart’s take on the news with the Boston attack was just hysterical.

janicen@4: and this was exactly what those revised rules and regs were supposed to stop! 👿 But I guess it all comes back to whoever is there on the floor when a circumstance like this occurs. But since they were known because of Allen’s medical treatment there previously there should have never been an issue with this.

Great post Fredster and I agree wholeheartedly with all you have written, but I’m going to diverge just a small bit (with all respect) from the analysis you have offered.

At the end of the day, I don’t see this as a gay rights issue so much as a patient’s rights issue. It was clear as the day is long that Roger and Allen had made provisions for whom they wanted to make their healthcare decisions — being gay, Druid, or Martian had nothing to do with qualification as a health care surrogate. What this hospital did, shamefully did — and it should be widely publicized — was to disavow a stated healthcare surrogacy. The line of attack is: You can’t trust RMC to abide by a patient’s wishes — no matter what you have on file, RMC won’t honor them. Given that they were so fast in putting out their CYA press release, they know they royally screwed up.

For situations like this I have recommended people who hold healthcare surrogacies to do this: When the Healthcare Surrogacy is filled out and properly notarized, take it to Kinko’s or wherever, have it reduced to wallet size, have it laminated, and carry it in a purse or wallet at all times by both the surrogate and by the person nominating the surrogate. When tensions arise, as in this situation, and the lame-brained attendant won’t take the time to look in their records and a police officer never really cares other than doing the bidding of the hospital, pulling out a laminated miniature formally ends any disagreement until cooler heads prevail and they look for the formal records. It would have saved poor Roger an arrest, three hours, and $600.

@7: Exactly so. It;s a human rights issue,

Prolix@7: I appreciate your take on this. However, do you think the situation would have arisen if Roger had been married to, say, Martha instead of Allen? And actually, it should have ended when Allen said, (if he said) “I want Roger here”. That’s what the new regs were about. It would seem that, as Aravoisis points out that “straight Lee” and Amanda were able to stay since they saw the incident with Roger being arrested.

I have to disagree because I think that if there had been a brouhaha between straight Lee and Roger, and Lee’s sibling was Martha, that the nurse or whomever would have said “Sorry, the spouse trumps sibling and Allen doesn’t want you here Lee. You can wait outside or downstairs but you have to go now.”

Further, although not said, I think possibly RMC discounted anything Allen said because he had been there before for his electroshock therapy and they may have figured he wasn’t capable of making any rational decision. Remember that the reason for carting him off to the hospital was that either a deputy or paramedic made a decision in the field that Allen might be a danger to himself, at the instigation of straight Lee, I’m willing to bet.

That is a good suggestion about carrying a miniature copy of the p.o.a. forms. I did mine and scanned it into a pdf and put a copy on my phone along with a copy of the meds I take. Let’s hope I’m conscious enough that I can tell someone at the hospital where they are. I have no designated p.o.a. or surrogate so it’s just me and my decisions.

@chat: And the same might have gone with your incident in FL. Had that woman had a male husband instead of a lesbian partner, I bet nothing would have been said.

Time for the “I told you so” dance
According to the Gallup poll, released Tuesday, a whopping 64 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Clinton, putting her nine percentage points ahead of President Obama (55 percent), 19 percentage points ahead of Biden and 20 percentage points ahead of the current Secretary of State John Kerry.

Read more:

chat@11: Yee-haw!!!

When will it stop? Just when will it stop?

This story is really awful. I remember reading it a week or two ago. And I do agree with Fredster: it’s the perfect example of why marriage equality is essential. This would not have happened to a heterosexual couple. Has there been any follow-up on it? Last I read at least a week ago is that the hospital was standing by its bigotry.

@9 — Undoubtedly Fredster, the bigotry toward Allen and Roger is ugly and decidedly “one room” (really, really old school), but I have to disagree with you that this can’t happen with straight couples or even siblings or other family members. I’ve seen it and even have been a part in it.

The greatest slight here, IMO, is that someone who has a legal and strong personal preference for his healthcare surrogacy is being ignored. Being gay is secondary, it happening because he is gay is secondary — in that his legal wishes are being ignored is the main offense.

To this charge the hospital has no defense. They don’t have a defense to being bigots either, but it is not nearly as actionable in this situation as their disregard for their legal obligation is.

BTW, the electronic version is a good idea too, but a “hold in your hand” laminated copy seems to be more effective for those people out there who are “afeared” of all things electronic. I say do both and dare them to ignore your wishes.

BTW, France just legalized gay marriage and adoption. I guess we liberals can start calling them “French Fries” and “Freedom Toast” now!

DYB@14: D, I had the links for this from before the Boston bombing and I’ll admit I haven’t checked to see if there are any updates to it. I would guess that it’s probably died down as a news item and that anything happening now is happening with lawyers and possibly the CMS looking into why the hospital did not act on rules or regs that had been promulgated in 2010. I do hope that the CMS does go and give RMC a strong look-see on this, but doubt they’ll do anything so drastic as to cut them off from being able to accept CMS funds.

@16: I just saw that in an email. Yay for the French!

Prolix@15: I never had a situation where I was in a “battle” with a sibling or family member on health care issues. My dad had not done an advanced directive or anything and when he was in his final illness and had to be vented we knew he would not have wanted that because it was probably going to be permanent. He was unconscious and a decision fell to my mom. His half-siblings were hundreds of miles away. Mom and I talked and agreed to do whatever to take him off the vent. However, Dad decided it for us because he went into cardiac arrest before anything could be done.

I’ll agree that the greater insult to Roger and Allen was in not recognizing a valid medical p.o.a. but I still bet the fact that they were gay came into that too.

(sigh) I already have so many cards and such I carry in my wallet that adding two more in there might start affecting my lumbo-sacral area when I sit down. 😆 Maybe a note that says adv directive & meds are on the phone perhaps?

Hey Fredster @18 re carrying another card, does that mean you are in a relationship? If so, Huzzah, you’re far ahead of me – but then again so is 99% of humanity.

Nope no relationship. The cards are a couple of credit cards, dental ins. card, health ins. card, d.l., AAA card and the like. The adv instructions just say that if I’m terminal and can’t speak it’s okay to water and feed me but don’t do anything “heroic” to me. Was going to have a friend be the proxy but he took soooo long in coming by to sign it that I said “eff it”. It’s pretty straightforward on what to do and not do.

Merci, France. C’est bon.

Aaah I was hoping – about the relationship thing. I’m in the turmoil of making out my will right now – both living and dead will that would be, but I keep putting it off. My situation is very simple – two kids 50/50 but it’s that living will and power of attorney thingie that is delaying the process. Fortunately I do not have a partner so no problem there, but I know that my kids will disagree about letting me die without intervention. Sigh and even if they don’t my sisters will try to intervene. This dying stuff is really shitty for anyone.

Sucks about Roger and Allen. I hope people remember this the next time they hear something like, “How quaint that gay people want to get married, but we have more important things to worry about like the economy….”

SophieCT@23: Touche’. I believe we can be concerned about more than one thing at a time, don’t you? 😉

HT@22: Nothing or anybody to argue about anything with me.

Ahh, Fredster, that’s French!

Max Baucus won’t seek reelection. And good riddance!

Ahh, Fredster, that’s French!

One of the few words or phrases I remember! tee-hee

I was decent enough at it in college that the instructor was talking to me about changing majors. Sadly then I discovered skipping classes and labs (it was an early a.m. class) and I went downhill fast. Pauvre moi !

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