Two weeks ago a young man, Paul Zilber, was visiting his partner after a suicide attempt and was accompanied by his partner’s grandparents at the Saint Barnabas Behavioral Center. Unfortunately, the visit to the behavioral center in Toms River, New Jersey dissolved into an act of discrimination towards a gay couple. Paul explains when the nurse’s behavior changed quickly when discovering he and his partner are gay. The nurse said. ‘Oh your partner in crime?’ I said, ‘No, I’m his boyfriend, thank you.’ She then sighed and said ‘Oh… .’ She rolled her eyes, and gave me a thumbs up and walked away.” How rude of her.
What’s even more disurbing is when Paul went to give his partner a hug, the staff responded rudely and told him that wasn’t protocol, evven though his partner’s grandparents had just given the newly admitted patient a hug. Paul then asked “why it was okay for everyone else to give hugs and kisses but it was not okay for me?”
You don’t know how much this angers me that a mental health staff conducted themselves in such an unprofessional manner. The first rule of any health profession is to DO NO HARM and the situation was obviously causing the patient more distress. Whatever their own stance this entire situation the Saint Barnabas staff should have NEVER happened in front of the patient.
The experience became even more difficult as Paul sought after answers of his partner’s condition. Paul stated ”I was very upset, and every time I would call a nurse would say, ‘I’m sorry, we have an order that we cannot speak to you, and that he cannot speak to you.’” Fortunately, Paul was told he could come back and visit his partner BUT under this stipulation that Paul ”promises to be appropriate.” Paul’s partner became distressed feeling his treatment was being affected because of his sexuality and his grandparents had him released the following day.
This is more than problematic for several reasons. President Obama issued a mandate in 2010 stipulating that visitation rights be extended to same sex couples. Also the patient himself along with family members had no problems with Paul being there in support. If you see or hear of issues like this be as vocal as possible because no staff working in the mental health field should ever conduct themselves this way.
Don’t ever allow this type of behavior for you are any of your loved ones and speak with the facilities administration. If they are funded federally, they are more than likely held to fair treatment of same sex couples. A petition has been started in show of support. You can sign the petition with over 19000 signatures here.