A lot of things can change in a year. People we know and love may disappear, through death or just going off the grid. We age. We change. Things change.
One year ago, Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana, was at the center of a case involving the mistreating of a trans woman in the Emergency Room.
Erin Vaught was treated inhumanely as she was dehumanized and disrespected in every way. She entered the hospital, coughing up blood, and was continually called “he-she” and “it” by the hospital staff.
According to Vaught, “Nurses would pop their heads in saying so is it a he or is it a she?”
When Vaught went to the bathroom, she says the nurses then began to badger her partner.
Her partner told them, “She is my wife, not an it.”, to which they replied, “We don’t know and until we know, he’s going to be an it.”
Several hours went by and Vaught asked when she would be seen by a doctor.
The nurse said, “We don’t know how to treat someone in your condition.”, to which Erin replied, “What’s my condition? That’s what I’m here to find out.” Her response was, “No, not that condition. The transvestite thing.”
Completely humiliated, Vaught walked out and later voiced her frustration on the hospital’s Facebook page. Overnight, she had hundreds of supporters, but it still took the hospital several weeks to even acknowledge the accusations.
Advocacy groups had filed complaints with the hospital in hopes that they change their behavior and provide everyone with the care they deserve.
“You don’t have to accept me,” said Vaught, “but I just want my rights.”
Ball Memorial Hospital had released the following statement:
“The hospital is committed to providing care with respect, dignity and courtesy…all staff are trained to embrace and act in accordance with core values…including compassion, respect and customer care.”
The hospital reached out to Vaught and two advocacy groups. Together they came up with a plan to help improve services to everyone.
NOW: ONE YEAR LATER:
The hospital is now getting high marks for its commitment to providing a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients.
IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital earned noticed form the Human Rights Campaign by meeting criteria that included writing explicitly inclusive visitation policies and offering equal employment opportunities and non-discriminatory policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
“We are committed to providing high-quality care, free from any type of discrimination, ” hospital President and CEO Michael Haley said in a statement.
A hospital spokesman said, “We started mandatory training in September (2010). The training is required on a yearly basis by all employees.
The hospital the revised its visitationpolicies to grant same-sex couples equal visitation accessas other couples and next of kin, and granting same-sex parents equal visitation access for their minor children. Other policy changes on eployment, employee benefits and patient non-discrimination soon followed.
The Healthcare Equality Index, released in June by the Human Rights campaign, found that the vast majority of American health care facilities did not have LGBT-inclusive patient non-discrimination policies last year. It rated 87 respondents on policies related to LGBT patients and families.
Since then, the gay and lesbian civil rights organization reports, Ball Memorial has been among several respondents that “have updated their policies to protect patients from discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.”
The hospital spokesman said the hospital will work to “constantly improve” its policies to make sure that “everyone feels they have a safe environment here.”
It is to be applauded that the hospital could make such a change in just a year’s time, but it is sad that it had to be forced into such actions. A hospital is meant to be a safe haven for all and a place of healing.
**Ball Memorial is now IU Health Ball Memorial. Last year they were still a Muncie owned hospital, part of Cardinal Health Systems who sold to Clarion Health who immediately sold to IU**