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Queens, New York Assisted Living Facility Discriminates Against Gay Man

Posted Apr 14 2013 12:00am

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By Jack Halpern , CEO, My Elder Advocate

One would not believe that in 2013, that a private assisted living facility in New York State would discriminate against a gay man , but that is exactly what happened to Carl Rizzio, the same gentleman mentioned in my last post dated March 31, 2013.

Had I not experienced it myself, I would not believe it. After Carl was accepted as a resident in the memory unit at The Brandywine at the Savoy Assisted Living Facility in Little Neck, NY , and on the eve of his admission, he was rejected because he had Hepatitis C in the past. This is highly unusual; I have never encountered another assisted living facility that did not admit a resident with Hepatitis C (Carl was later admitted to another fine facility without any problems). The Executive Director, Mark Weinberger claims that he did not know that Carl was gay, as if only gay men develop this illness. I explained to Mr. Weinberger that Carl was a gay man and he had Hepatitis C in the past, but he was never HIV Positive, and that he would not be a danger to the other residents in the memory unit. I referred him to a Department of Health memo on Hepatitis C, which states the following:

“Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus ( HCV ). The virus is found in blood and certain body fluids. It is spread when a person who is not immune comes in contact with blood or body fluids from an infected person. Hepatitis C is spread through sharing needles or "works" when "shooting" drugs, through needle stick or sharps exposures in a health care setting, or sometimes from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal birth. It is possible to get hepatitis C from sex, but it is uncommon."

I also asked Mr. Weinberger to accept a letter from Carl’s doctor stating very clearly that it was highly unlikely that Carl would infect anyone in the Memory Center, unless he mixed blood with another resident. Mark Weinberger refused Carl admission. He stated that he “did not want a gay man with Hepatitis C in his facility”, because he had never accepted anyone with Hepatitis C, and he would have to teach his staff how to deal with it. He also would not accept a doctor’s note, because the doctor “did not have a crystal ball and could not give him any guarantees” that Carl would not infect anyone.

It is clear that Carl was discriminated against, just like many LGBT individuals are discriminated against in many facilities across the country. Many developers are now building facilities that are “LGBT Friendly” and admit LGBT residents exclusively. That does not mean that Brandywine should get away with this.

I always advise my clients to stay away from facilities that discriminate against anyone as a matter of policy. Mr. Mark Weinberger, Executive Director at the Brandywine, should be ashamed of himself. So should the Operators of the Brandywine chain of assisted living facilities.

While not a scientific study, the National Senior Citizens Law Center's "LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities: Stories from the Field" includes data from 769 adults who completed an online survey from October 2009 to June 2010. Nearly 300 respondents identified themselves as LGBT older adults; the rest were family members, friends, legal and social service providers. Almost all — 89% — predicted that staff would discriminate against a LGBT older adult. Nearly half (43%) reported 853 overall instances of mistreatment. Additionally, 24 reported denial of medical treatment while 93 reported restrictions on visitors.

My Elder Advocate responds nearly instantly to any elder or eldercare crisis… in order to provide nursing home intervention, arrange for immediate placements, prevent evictions from nursing homes, handle a hospital crisis, and respond to other eldercare challenges.

But we can’t solve an ugly and dangerous situation unless you contact us immediately. Often waiting a day is as harmful to a family member as taking no action at all.

If you and your family have an elder family member that is facing one of these challenges, don’t wait. We can resolve it quickly. Contact us TODAY by calling us directly at (212) 945-7550.

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