Lesbian says Fresno hospital kept partner from ER bedside

FRESNO, California — A woman says Community Regional Medical Center temporarily barred her partner from visiting her in the emergency room after she collapsed at a rally for same-sex marriage last month in Fresno.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights said the hospital discriminated against the Bay Area lesbian couple when it prevented the visitation. They want an apology and for the hospital to make comprehensive changes to its visitor policy.

Hospital officials said an internal investigation had revealed nothing inappropriate in the women's treatment.

The couple's attorneys say the hospital kept Teresa Rowe, 30, from accompanying Kristin Orbin, 29, into the emergency room on May 30. And staff prevented Rowe, who grew up in Clovis, from going to the bedside of Orbin for several hours, the attorneys say.

Orbin and Rowe are not married, but have been partners for four years.

In a June 15 letter sent to the Community Medical Centers' board of trustees, the attorneys said: "It appears that Kristin was treated 'differently' as a patient at the Community Regional Medical Center because she is lesbian. Both she and Teresa informed all relevant hospital personnel of their relationship, and both were wearing marriage equality T-shirts. Yet Teresa was not even allowed to provide Kristin's doctor with necessary medical information."

The attorneys have asked for a reply from the hospital by Monday.

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