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Stephanie speaking at Memorial Hospital Pembroke- April 16th, National Healthcare Decisions Day

National Healthcare Decisions Day with Thoughts from Nadine Smith, Executive Director, Equality Florida

National Healthcare Decisions Day Affects Everyone Including the LGBT Community

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to and speaking with Nadine Smith the CEO of Equality Florida at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale in observance of National Healthcare Decisions Day. Nadine is an inspiring and motivating advocate for all people. She helped our law firm – encourage attendees to complete written advance directives to make their wishes known so that their wishes will be honored in the future. Nadine shared with us that she and her wife Andrea took personal responsibility to complete advance directives shortly after getting married as they approached the birth of their first child. Thank you Nadine for being a role model!

Everyone regardless of age, marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation can benefit from taking the time to complete an advance directive. Benefits include:

  1. maintaining your privacy
  2. choosing the person you trust to make healthcare decisions for you if you are incapacitated
  3. avoiding a court guardianship proceeding which is time-consuming, expensive and results in a loss of privacy.

Since Florida is a “non-recognition” state for same sex marriage at the time of this writing, I firmly believe that it is crucial for LGBT individuals to have advance directives Inroads have certainly been made to remove personal bias and discrimination in a hospital setting (Medicare or Medicaid funded) when LGBT persons or domestic partners choose who can visit them thanks to the 2011 federal Patient Visitation Rule. It is still important to select a medical advocate and make your healthcare wishes known   The Patient Visitation Rule prohibits hospitals and acute care facilities from discriminating against patients by refusing visitation rights based upon sexual identity and gender orientation. This Rule permits all patients to designate a ‘support person’ to determine who is allowed visitation as well as who is prohibited from visiting the patient.

If you were unable to join us last evening, here are some of the highlights of Nadine’s presentation:

Nadine Smith, Executive Director, Equality Florida

Nadine Smith, Executive Director, Equality Florida

  • Since the 2008 constitutional amendment that defined ‘marriage’ as being between a man and a woman, polls show that 57% of Floridians now want marriage equality.
  • When marriage equality is achieved in Florida it will still be important for counties to have domestic partnership registrations. Couples (straight or gay) who choose not to marry need basic legal protections such as freedom from discrimination, public or private benefits provided through employment, and to be recognized as their partner’s support person.
  • Corporations are a considerable force in bringing marriage equality to non-recognition states. Companies are realizing that in order to retain the best and brightest employees (and avoid the costs associated with turnover) they must provide a work environment that is safe from discrimination, that acknowledges domestic partners, same sex partners as along with their blended families. This means that corporations have a vested interest in seeing that Florida and other states accept marriage equality so that when a company relocates an employee to Florida for example,  it will be a welcoming and inclusive place to live and work.
  • The City of Pembroke Pines Commission voted unanimously last night to create a domestic partnership benefits ordinance for its city employees which would provide health insurance to partners of its employees and other benefits.

I want to especially thank our sponsors and collaborators who made these educational events possible: Fred Hunters Memorial Services, Vitas Innovative Hospice, Hospice of Palm Beach County and Hospice of Broward County, Memorial Hospital Pembroke CARES (formerly Leeza’s Place), Avante, ValueCare at Home, Embassy Suites- 17th St.,  and to our co-presenters for sharing valuable information about hospice and pre-need planning. Thank you to all the organizations who assisted in publicizing these events and to Keith Blackburn for his support of our efforts to create change.  Please visit our website and click Join our Mailing List to receive our complimentary e-newsletter with important tips and pearls of wisdom to help you achieve your goals and create peace of mind.

Melanie McMillion, Hospice of Broward County

Melanie McMillion, Hospice of Broward County

Scott Cummings, Mark Van Reese-Fred Hunters

Scott Cummings, Mark Van Reese-Fred Hunters

Henley Ambrose - Vitas, Keith Blackburn- GFLGLCC, Stephanie Schneider, CELA

Henley Ambrose – Vitas, Keith Blackburn- GFLGLCC, Stephanie Schneider, CELA

Stephanie speaking at Memorial Hospital Pembroke- April 16th, National Healthcare Decisions Day

Stephanie speaking at Memorial Hospital Pembroke- April 16th, National Healthcare Decisions Day

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