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HRC 2010 Healthcare Equality Index: Jackson Memorial Hospital scores well in treating gay patients

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Janice Langbehn town hall 022XXThree years after a lesbian complained she wasn't allowed to visit her dying partner at Jackson Memorial Hospital, the South Florida healthcare center now ranks high in how it responds to gay patients and families, according to a report released Monday by the national Human Rights Campaign.

``Healthcare that is free of prejudice is a fundamental human value, and a fundamental value Miamians share,'' HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a news release.

HRC, the nation's largest gay-rights group, has dedicated its 2010 annual Healthcare Equality Index report to Janice Langbehn and partner Lisa Pond. On Feb. 18, 2007, Pond suffered a fatal brain aneurysm shortly before they were to sail with their three children on a Caribbean cruise for gay families.

Langbehn, pictured above, maintains that a Jackson social worker would not let her visit Pond because Florida is ``an anti-gay state.'' Pond, 39, died the next day.

After Pond's death, Jackson became a national lightening rod for gay-patient rights.

``Janice gave focus to the work we're trying to address. As a person who experienced the horrible situation at Jackson Memorial, she became a spokesperson for change,'' said Tom Sullivan, deputy director of HRC's Family Project.

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