LAS VEGAS, NV — More than 130,000 people have joined a popular campaign on Change.org calling on Universal Health Services, Inc., a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest hospital management companies in the United States, to enforce new federal regulations granting visitation and medical decision-making rights to same-sex couples.
Terri-Ann Simonelli launched her campaign on Change.org after being denied the right to make medical decisions for her legal domestic partner of six years, Brittney Leon, while visiting Spring Valley Hospital in Las Vegas — a hospital which is owned and operated by Universal Health Services.
"One of the worst days of my life was the day my partner of six years, Brittney, checked into the hospital with complications in her pregnancy," said Simonelli, who launched her campaign on Change.org . "As her legal domestic partner in the state of Nevada, I was there to support her, and was prepared to make any necessary medical decisions if she suffered unforeseen problems. Instead, we were told that I didn't have that right, despite a new federal regulation that protects hospital rights for same-sex couples."
"In a moment when we were already under severe stress, the discrimination we faced left us feeling helpless," said Simonelli. "I launched my campaign on Change.org to help others become better aware of their rights, and to ensure that no couple has to face what we went through — ever again."
Universal Health Services is a Fortune 500 company based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which owns and operates acute care hospitals, behavioral health centers, and ambulatory surgery centers in 37 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each new signature on Terri-Ann Simonelli's petition is sent via email to James M. Caponi, the Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer of Universal Health Services.
"Terri-Ann and Brittney know that they have a powerful story to tell and believe that they have a unique responsibility to tell it," said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, Senior Campaigner at Change.org . "More than 130,000 people have joined their campaign in a matter of days, and the couple plans to keep up the pressure until Universal Health Services confirms that the new federal regulations are being enforced."
In early 2010, President Obama issued a memorandum urging the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the visitation and medical decision-making rights of same-sex couples in hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. On September 7, 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, updated its rules to reflect the President's request.