Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hospital Visitation and Families

Alternet had an article today that took the position:

Gay marriage does nothing to address fundamental problems of inequality. What is needed is universal access to basic necessities like housing, health care, food, and the benefits now obtained through citizenship (like the right to stay in this country). Legalized gay marriage means only that certain people in a specific type of long-term, monogamous relationship sanctioned by a state contract might be able to access benefits. While marriage could confer inclusion under a spouse's health-care policy, it does nothing to provide such a policy. Marriage might ensure hospital visitation rights, but not for anyone without a spouse

I read the article, not intending to comment, but after reading one comment to this article, I was prompted to make a response;

The original comment:

So the article wants universal healthcare. And allowing homosexuals to marry doesn't help that. But the article seems to suggest that hospital visitation rights should be extended. That seems nuts to me. I can imagine some idiot trying to sell me a burial plot or a home alarm system when I'm in a hospital bed. Why not restrict that to family?

My response to this comment was aimed directly at the last sentence: "Why not restrict it to family?":

The problem with hospital visitation rights is that the hospital defines who may count as "family".

For some of us, gay and straight, our best friends and lovers mean more to us than our blood kin. The author is saying that all people ought to be able to define who their next of kin is for themselves, not have the hospital dictate who that is. If need be, people could carry cards in their wallets listing such self-chosen next of kin.

To suggest that she meant than anyone off the street, such as an obnoxious salesman, should be able to randomly come in and bother a hospital patient was being deliberately obtuse, I'm thinking.

Your thoughts?

1 comment:

Jay said...

Yes, I'm thinking that's deliberately obtuse, too.

What's wrong with asking the patient themselves if they wish to see Mr/Mrs/Ms X?' That would cut out salesmen and any other unwelcome person. The card in the wallet would be perfect for those situations where the patient is not conscious or is otherwise unable to respond to a question.

It's time we realised that getting better isn't simply a matter of medical care. There is also that old fashioned commodity known as 'nursing' which seems to have largely gone by the board because nurses don't have time for TLC. So, why not allow friends and relatives to provide that?