In February 2007, Janice Langbehn’s partner of 18 years, Lisa Marie Pond was rushed to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital and claimed she was denied access to her partner until after she died because she was not related.
Stories can sometimes be misunderstood or, when told over and over, tend to change.
When I heard about the case involving Janice Langbehn and her family and the accusations against our hospital, I felt inclined to do more research. As I learned more, I felt I needed to get involved. This was important to me not just because I am a proud and longtime employee of the Jackson Health System, but as a gay man, married to my partner and with an 8 year old son who comes to Jackson for all of his medical care, I could well be faced with a similar situation.
As a union leader for SEIU Local 1991 at Jackson, I was able to get feedback from fellow employees and as I expected, most of my colleagues could not believe that this experience could have happened at Jackson. With other union leaders, we met with upper management to brainstorm on how to properly handle this situation. We formed a task group comprised of local, state and national LGBT groups and received input from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Labor and management representatives then met jointly with the task group to establish goals for our health care system.
As a representative of my union, which represents the nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals at Jackson Health System, I met with management several times and we began implementing changes starting with visitation policies system wide. This was by far no easy task. We continued by establishing education programs for staff and several other inservice type programs teaching the staff about LGBT healthcare issues. Within about a year, our hospital was transformed to being the shining star in the HRC Health Care Quality Index for 2011. We not only overcame the negative publicity that was hurting our image nationally, but became an example of how it should be for other Hospital Systems across the country.
Through my union, I continue to help my hospital strive to become even better in the areas of LGBT issues and care. I also continue to bring my own child as well as refer close friends to come to my hospital for the world class care we offer. We truly are a world class institution with our doors open to everyone. I feel so proud to have been part of this amazing transformation which proves that when labor and management work together, great things can happen.
Norberto Molina Jr., RN
Jackson Memorial Hospital
Trustee, SEIU Local 1991