Sharon ....and JoAnn.....had been life-partners for 17 years, when JoAnn’s chronic illness worsened and she was hospitalized at the University of Washington Medical Center. On September 3, 2005, JoAnn was moved to the ICU and came under the care of a contract nurse, Karen Hulley, for the night. And on that night, their lives changed forever. Despite the fact that the University and JoAnn’s doctor permitted Sharon to be by her beside constantly, Nurse Hulley, repeatedly refused Sharon access to JoAnn’s room and bedside, continually evicting her from the room. By the time Sharon regained access to her partner the next morning, JoAnn’s condition had deteriorated, and she was heavily drugged. She died within a matter of hours.
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Pam's House Blend comments that powers of attorney and health care proxies aren't enough:
Sharon and JoAnn had copies of their power of attorney and health care proxy with them, and copies were attached to JoAnn's chart. And they had the cooperation and backing of JoAnn's doctor. But after hours, after the doctor had gone home and the night nurse was in charge, all respect for the law and contracts went out the window. Whenever Sharon tried to be in the room with JoAnn to comfort her as she lay dying, the nurse screamed at her "You don't belong here!", and kicked her out. So much for powers of attorney and health care proxy being a meaningful substitute for a civil marriage.