Who Knows Who Best?
Obama recently made it mandatory that any hospital in the US that gets benefits from Medicare or Medicade allow more than just blood relatives or spouses to be able to visit a loved one in the hospital. This is a good start to something. It allows those of us who are not “related”, but involved with someone the opportunity to be by the person we love in such situations.
Several years ago, my partner , over several days, had an infection on his leg. We went to the “doc in a box”, got the antibiotics to take care of the infection. Problem, infection kept getting worse. On Sunday we said we would give the drugs another day to kick in. Monday morning rolled around, not better. A close friend agreed to take my partner to the emergency room for another look over while I went to work. After a few hours, I get the call. He is being admitted, just for observation. I continue to work, worried, but work. Doctors take a look and he needs surgery, immediately, to remove infection. When I get there after surgery, he is a bit groggy. I really did not get what was going on. Our friend informed me of what he could, but I was still being over-worried. It was brought up by our friend , did we have the Advanced Medical Directive (Medical Power of Attornery). We did not, and with out it, legally, the hospital did not have to give me any information. Fortunately, the law firm I work with was able to get my lawyer over to get the Directive done. The nurses even acted as witnesses. I did not do this because I was being treated bad by the staff, but, I saw how groggy my partner was and a push from a friend pointed out that with him having to stay in the hospital for a few days, they would not release info to me, only my partner or his relatives. He was groggy. So, getting this Directive in place got my name on the the dry-erase board in the room with my number should something go bad.
Point is, we waited until something serious happened to get things set in place. I think many couples like us do not think about it seriously (not all, but most). In Virginia, legally, we have no rights to make decisions for our partners without having these documents, and then there could be a fight, I am sure. We both carry copies of our Advanced Medical Directive and Durable Power of Attorney with us in our brief cases. When we travel, we take them with us. We have orginals in safe at home and the lawyers have a copy. But, is this fair to us. Do we really need to worry that if we go on vacation and one of us gets hurt that we will not be able to do anything? Look at the Florida lesbian couple that Obama looked at. Heartbreaking. This could happen anywhere. Even here in Virginia, especially with our current administration. Thing is, without a legalized same sex marriage, even “visitation rights” may not solve many issues.
I am not well versed on one law or another. I am just a man, with a partner, who happened to have a situation happen that woke us both up as to what could happen. Not only now, but 25, 35 or 50 years down the road, should things not change. Janice Langbehn lost her partner in Florida and only briefly got to see her before she passed. The children they raised together lost a mother and were not able to say good-bye. Though my partner did not have serious issues, it was a wake-up call. Things need to change, and Obama’s step is one in the right direction. I hope to see more soon.
Kelly Stern is orginally from Lynchburg, VA and is an AP Award winning television journalist, Telly Award winner in video production. Currently he is an Insurance Broker focusing in on Life, Long Term Care and Disability Insurance with Finacial Planners and Independent Agents across the state and the DC Metro Area. Kelly blogs at ramblingalong.com. He came out in his early 30′s and has been in a relationship with his partner for nearly 8 years. They have two dogs and live in Richmond’s Near West End.
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