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Hospital visitation memo

Hospital visitation memo

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Published by JoeSudbay
Obama memo on hospital visitation, which includes LGBT patients and their families
Obama memo on hospital visitation, which includes LGBT patients and their families

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Published by: JoeSudbay on Apr 15, 2010
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04/15/2010

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THE WHITE HOUSEOffice of the Press SecretaryFor Immediate Release April 15, 2010April 15, 2010MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICESSUBJECT: Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients toReceive Visitors and to Designate SurrogateDecision Makers for Medical EmergenciesThere are few moments in our lives that call for greatercompassion and companionship than when a loved one is admittedto the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain andanxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulderon which to lean -- a loved one to be there for us, as we wouldbe there for them.Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied thekindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides -- whetherin a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay.Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the supportand comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders aresometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediatefamily member to visit them and make medical decisions on theirbehalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americanswho are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whomthey may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be therefor the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogateif their partner is incapacitated.For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishesrespected concerning who may visit them or make medicaldecisions on their behalf has real consequences. It means thatdoctors and nurses do not always have the best information aboutpatients' medications and medical histories and that friends andcertain family members are unable to serve as intermediariesto help communicate patients' needs. It means that a stressfuland at times terrifying experience for patients is senselesslycompounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that alltoo often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone,denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments whilea loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.Many States have taken steps to try to put an end to theseproblems. North Carolina recently amended its Patients' Bill ofRights to give each patient "the right to designate visitors whoshall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient'simmediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors arelegally related to the patient" -- a right that applies in everyhospital in the State. Delaware, Nebraska, and Minnesota haveadopted similar laws.more(OVER)

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