Woman denied visitation of partner at local hospital


A Middle Tennessee woman is seeking answers after being prevented from seeing her partner in a local hospital last week.

Rolling Hills Hospital in Franklin denied multiple requests by Val Burke to visit her partner, who is currently a patient in the hospital’s residential facility. Staff members excluded her from the room since she was not a legal spouse or family member.

"I went to visit her at the appropriate visiting time and was turned away," she says. "We have been living together for three years now, but that didn’t matter to them either. The rest of her family is out of town, so she didn’t have any one visit her."

Burke had previously been allowed visitation rights, but only with her partner’s mother in attendance.

Under recent federal regulations, patients at most hospitals across the country are allowed to choose who has visitation rights. These rules apply to all hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. 

Hospitals are also required to put their visitation policies in writing, including any "clinically necessary or reasonable restrictions" to visitation that may be appropriate.

Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) contacted the facility Sunday evening and confirmed that Rolling Hills participates in Medicare and Medicaid. Hospital administration were made aware of the incident and addressed this policy with staff on Monday, according to Chris Sanders, chair of TEP’s Nashville committee.

"(This) is a very troubling report and it reminds us of the importance of this rule change that recently went into effect," he says. "When we are at our most vulnerable, we need to be able to choose who visits us in the hospital."

Phone calls to the Rolling Hills administration have not been returned.

Val Burke previously served as a volunteer staff writer for O&AN. Her articles can be found in the O&AN archives.