Friday, April 16, 2010

Who are those people?

President Obama has ordered the Health and Human Services agency to ensure that the hospitals that get Medicare and Medicaid money grant visitation right to whoever the patient wants. It was mostly described in the news as giving the visitation rights to same-sex partners, but it fact it concerns all the people who wish to be visited by someone who is not a member of their immediate family.

This is very good news, of course, but the very fact that the issue exists makes me wonder quite a bit - who are the enemy, I mean the people on the other side of the issue? Why? I've never seen them. This sort of gives me the feeling that there is some other, alternative USA out there.

Obviously, one of the guilty parties is Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital. A few years ago a woman visiting Miami got a brain aneurysm and was rushed there. When her partner of 17 years came there with their three children, they were not allowed to visit the woman, in spite of the fact that the partner had a medical power of attorney document with her, and in spite of the fact that there was no medical reason to prevent the visit. The woman died, alone.

Jackson Memorial Hospital argued in court - successfully, no less - that they are under no obligation to allow any visitors at all. I can only hope that everyone who does have an opportunity to choose their hospital has heard this loud and clear.

The whole thing makes me suspect that Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital is in fact run by aliens (of the extraterrestrial kind) with little green antennae, who did not come in peace. Seriously, I've never seen anything like that. I've never seen any hospital in the US (or in Finland or Austria, for that matter) take any interest in who their patient's visitors are. Moreover - I know that there are many Americans who are different from me in one way or another, and I've met quite a lot of them, from rather far right to rather far left, from the coasts and from the Midwest, religious and atheists, but I've never met a person whom I could even imagine supporting this idea. Who are they? Hey, if any of you are reading this, wanna tell me who you are?

I can imagine that if some hospital in Boston suddenly started admitting only immediate relatives to visit patients, the result would be immediate violence, with the perpetrator utterly failing to be convicted by the jury of his or her peers.

What's in it for the hospitals? Also, how do they even know who the immediate family are? How does anyone know that I am my parents' daughter, or my parents are married to each other? Obviously, if the matter comes up in some court, one can unearth some certificates, my parents have their wedding pictures somewhere, and quite a lot of living witnesses to the event, and the fact that they are my parents can be established by a DNA test. Anybody who does not have the time and money for all of the above would have to rely on our word, though.


Paavo said...

I'm glad that I can easily get information about my girlfriend in finnish hospital.

But I'm not sure it is good for her privacy.

For some reason it is easier to get in to hospital than into university, so when i need to go into university library of medicinal faculty, I go through the hospital.

So the doors to the library (that is open) are closed, so I have to go through the hospital to get to library.

But I have been to hospital for very personal reasons. And I would be very offended if the hospital would have the freedom to give any information about my hospital stay to any members of my family.

Hospital staff was very open with me about my girlfriend's condition. It was very humane, but I'm not sure that it followed any principle that would hold up in court

pjt said...

At least maternity wards in Finland do have rules for who can visit and when - immediate family allowed all day, others only on specific hours, and in some cases, not in the ward rooms but just a common coffee room, or something.

This is necessary, because otherwise there'd be too many visitors who disturb the other mothers and children at the ward.

I don't see any point in denying access from same-sex partners, but it is understandable to require some kind of proof that the visitor is welcome (at least when the patient him/herself is unable to decide). Like, you have to live at the same address.

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