We were the victims of bad medicine and homophobia. This is our story:
On Sunday, May 20, 2012, my partner Roger and I were traveling through Tiffin, OH coming back from our honeymoon and he had a TIA (mini stroke) while driving. I knew what it was immediately. He was confused, unable to continue driving, his speech was garbled. I asked him to lift his left arm and he couldn’t. He tried taking his right arm and moving his left but it was dead weight. I told him – “you’re having a stroke.”
I got him to the passenger side of the car – we were stopped in the middle of an intersection. He was unable to put any weight on his left side and I had to almost carry him to the passenger side. I pulled over and called 911.
He was taken by squad to Mercy Tiffin Hospital where he was seen by Mark T. Wagner, DO. I followed in the car with our camper and when I got into the ER he was already in a treatment room. I asked to go back and was asked relationship – I stated "husband" (we are legally married in the state of New York) and the clerk was very hesitant to write that in the record. It was a very tense situation. I didn’t want to make any waves because of the horror stories you hear about same sex partners being removed from beside the hospital beds of their partners. I could tell that there were people watching us when I comforted him and kissed him on the head. I wanted him to know that he would be okay. At that point, he was my priority not someone’s feelings about people who are gay.
He was given a CT (which later I was to learn would not necessarily show a TIA if it resolved). After obtaining the records, I noted that the radiologist recommended an MRI if there was any concern because it would be more revealing. Despite his blood sugar being in the normal range (per testing in the squad), he was released with a diagnosis of hypoglycemia and told to go get something to eat. Approximately 20 minutes after discharge he had a major stroke in Wendy’s restaurant. He was on the floor with food and his milkshake spilled all over him. He was crying. It was the most heartbreaking picture I have ever seen or ever want to see.
He was taken back to Mercy Tiffin and the transported to St. Rita’s in Lima, OH where he was hospitalized for 4 days. Diagnosis: CVA.
On May 25, 2012 I contacted the Patient Advocate at Mercy Tiffin Hospital to discuss my concerns with the treatment. Eventually I talked with Dr. Matt Fitzpatrick, medical director of the ER who stated that my partner had not been treated appropriately. I have tried for two months to get the “stroke protocol” that should have been followed in the Emergency Room. They have never produced it. That makes me wonder if they know they did not follow the protocol, or if one even exists.
I am convinced that they discharged us without a thorough investigation because we are gay.
After submitting a complaint through the Catholic Health Partners web site (on the 2 month anniversary of my complaint), I finally got a meeting with the CEO at Tiffin. He listened politely and acknowledged that despite trying to set an accepting culture within the organization, there will always be some people who let their biases get in the way. He also did not help me obtain the stroke protocol.
After FIVE MONTHS - we were summarily dismissed by their upper administration stating that "everything appears to be in order." We want to meet with them in person and get a copy of their protocol.