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Woman: I couldn't see my dying partner

A woman from Washington state says a Jackson Memorial Hospital social worker refused to let her see her dying partner and told her Florida is ''an anti-gay state,'' according to an article in The Olympian that Rosie O'Donnell posted on rosie.com.

Janice Langbehn says Lisa Pond, her partner for 17 years, suffered a brain aneurysm Feb. 18 on the Norwegian Jewel, shortly before the couple and their three children, then 9 to 13, were to sail from Miami on an R Family Vacations cruise to the Caribbean.

O'Donnell's partner Kelli co-founded R Family Vacations, which caters to gays and lesbians.

From The Olympian: ``Langbehn, a social worker, said officials at . . . [JMH] did not recognize her or their jointly adopted children as part of Pond's family. They were not allowed to be with her . . . and Langbehn's authority to make decisions for Pond was not recognized . . .

``Even after a friend in Olympia faxed the legal documents that showed that Pond had authorized Langbehn to make medical decisions for her, Langbehn said she wasn't invited to be with her partner or told anything about her condition. She said she wasn't allowed to see Pond again until a priest arrived to give . . . Last Rites.''

Janice2Pond, 39, a special ed teacher's assistant, died Feb. 19. The story hit the news Monday, after Langbehn recounted the incident Sunday at a gay pride festival in Olympia.

Washington ''is one of a half-dozen states to recognize same-sex partnerships in some fashion, Florida is not,'' the article adds.

Langbehn told The Miami Herald the social worker's name -- Garnett Frederick.

Frederick, 54, ''strongly denies making the comments,'' says JMH's VP of public relations, Robert Alonso. Alonso says Pond was at Ryder Trauma Center, where doctors delivered ''immediate emergency clinical interventions.'' That accounts for any delay in Langbehn seeing Pond, Alonso says. ``We have a very liberal visitation policy. As soon as it's humanly possible and appropriate to bring in visitors, we do.''

Langbehn, 38, says JMH did an about-face hours later when she said Pond had wanted to be an organ donor. ''They finally started talking to me.'' Pond's heart, liver and kidneys were used in transplants, Langbehn says.

Insists Langbehn: 'It happened. He said it. It's not that I want anyone to get in trouble. I want couples to be able to hold their dying partners' hands. That is what was taken away from me. I didn't get to say goodbye, and neither did our kids.''

Frederick, who has a doctorate in social welfare from Florida International University, has worked at Jackson for 16 years and has been honored for his work. Frederick's supervisor calls him a ''strong patient advocate, experienced and extremely compassionate,'' Alonso says.

Langbehn says she complained to Jackson through its website but never heard back. Alonso says the hospital will try to track her complaint.

Jackson ''strives to treat all patients and their families with respect and dignity,'' Alonso says. ``We have an extremely diverse work force serving an extremely diverse community.''

Langbehn says R Family Vacations immediately refunded the $6,300 for the missed cruise, and Rosie and Kelli sent flowers for Pond's memorial Mass. From Rosie's Feb. 22 unpunctuated e-mail to Langbehn: ``i am so sad about the hospital not allowing u to b together i should not b shocked but i am over and over again how we r treated in the USA unreal.''

Kelli invited Langbehn and her kids to go on a free, weeklong cruise in July. Rosie will first put them up at the Shoreham in New York and treat them to dinner and the Broadway show Wicked. Langbehn writes about it on her website, thelpkids.com.

Janice3

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If her partner were her HUSBAND there would have been no problem.

This is exactly why we must defeat the so-called marriage amendment next year! Join SAVE today and we can stop this from happening.

This story needs to be told over and over again. Gay and Lesbian people need to know this is how Florida treats you....and take your vacation dollars elsewhere. This story should be on the front page of the Herald...not a gay and lesbian blog. Boycott Florida!

I am shocked at today’s article where Janice Langbehn reports being treated poorly in relation to the death of her partner at Jackson. I recently had a completely different and positive experience while helping a dear friend through a 9 week critical illness at Jackson. Unfortunately my friend died on June 6. However his partner, proxy and dearest friend, Rick Tamargo spoke to me last week of how he was treated with respect, dignity and compassion throughout the entire hospitalization. All doctors, nurses, social workers and other health care providers were always ready to share information, support and allow liberal visiting. In addition all of my friends family and friends were treated in the same respectful manner. I was touched and brought to tears by his words and proud of the care provided at Jackson. If the experience had been any other way I would have spoken out loudly as a friend and patient advocate. Hopefully this story can be shared as well.

I think it truly depends on the staff you get don't you! The hospital can say they would do it this way or that but the staff - Doctors, nurses etc... have minds and beliefs of their own. If the hospital stands by while they do what they want or act on personal beliefs then they are at fault. In Cols, Oh I was treated at Riverside which is known to be great but one nurse looked at my partner, asked who she was, walked out and very loudly said I'm not going back in there and I'm not treating them and I will not except their paper work ! So another nurse came in and she was really nice. My surgery at Grant I stopped breathing, the nurse kicked my partner out, and refused my urgent calls during the night to the point the aid had to apologize for her and helped me. The staff ,even security in the hospital said she had not right but she told her she would call up security if she stayed. The aid and morning nurses even Doctors were wonderful to both of us. I believe their story because we've lived-position it ! What would people do if the world were turned around, I bet they'd prey we'd have more compassion than they give us. The unfortunate thing is these people are in a position to hurt us and our loved ones ! Our partners are our husbands, wives,GF,BF and parteners, we feel their love and compassion, laughter and loss just like anyone else would theirs !! And not to let a child see or say goodbye to a parent is hate that's all is was is hate. My partner, my wife cries with me and feels every bit of my pain, every time I have another surgery, or a procedure. She's there holding my hand,being my strength! She has been working to keep our family going since I lost my job, we go through all the same things as they do, as you and your spouses orloved ones, she is my everything and for someone to keep me away if she were passing is pure evil, hate, prejudice all the things that keep this country at war with it's self all these years later. Perhaps that's the big answer to our question when we ask why we were born uniquely different, to teach mankind compassion & love for all mankind! The oldest lessons in the book !

Even though the courts decided to uphold bigotry, surely Garnett Frederick is subject to the NASW code of ethics. He should be brought up on charges.

I agree that Garnett Frederick should be checked....check the date and time of the fax and to whom it was directed to when sent...just because he now says one thing, does not mean he did not say something differently before. Talk to people where he works--this type of bigot, if he is, will normally brag about his attitude. And this woman gave his name....why would she single out this 'stranger' unless he had been less than kind. Hopefully, these types of haters will be called out.....each and every person should call them out.....and he should be placed on leave until this problem is solved.....

However, that will not be happening. Florida is about as Southern as it gets, and then some. It has been the pinpoint of some of the grimiest events in history. Race and gender is already two long examples -- do we really need to go in-depth to compare it to same-sex relationships? Understand that, in time, Florida could change its ways. Unfortunately for you, that day is not today. Keep fighting the good fight, but keep realistic results in your back pocket.

At least for those of you who can do THAT much, you wont be as "shocked" as some others.

Well, thanks for sharing this information with us,this is an interesting story.

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