Woman concerned by Western Health's gender policy

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Gary Kean
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Joyce Fitzgerald believes Western Health’s policy of mixing genders in hospital rooms when deemed necessary is unacceptable. — Photo by Gary Kean/The Western Star

Joyce Fitzgerald says mixing genders in the same hospital room is wrong and a recipe for trouble.

The Corner Brook woman is speaking out about the policy of having men and women sharing hospital rooms. Her comments come after she said a friend of hers was put in the situation at Western Memorial Regional Hospital without first being asked if she was OK with it.

According to Fitzgerald, the woman was told she had a choice of being in a room with a person who may soon die, or with a person who had some sort of dementia illness. Her friend chose the latter.

“When she looked over, it was a male and she lost it,” Fitzgerald told The Western Star.

“I just think the situation they are putting people into is unsafe,” she said. “The next thing you know there will be sexual offences going on in there. It will probably take something bad like that happening before they change their policy.”

Fitzgerald said the woman has difficulty speaking and could not be interviewed. She did not wish to identify her publicly.

Western Health would not comment on the woman’s particular case, but said hospital policy is to ask patients if they are willing to share a room with someone of the opposite gender.

“If the patient does not express any concerns, the admission proceeds,” Heidi Staeben-Simmons, Western Health’s regional director of corporate communications, said in an emailed response.

“If the patient expresses an objection or concern and is opposed to such a placement, the patient is placed in room with a patient of the same gender.”

Fitzgerald believes it is never right under any circumstances, but said the woman she is talking about was never asked if she had any concerns about sharing her room with a man.

With a new regional hospital in the works to replace Western Memorial, Fitzgerald wonders if that new facility will have enough beds to prevent women and men from having to share rooms.

The Western Star

Organizations: Western Memorial Regional Hospital

Geographic location: Western Star, Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Grow Up
    July 31, 2013 - 08:34

    Health care should not be based on gender, it should be on need. If someone is concerned with an opposite gender patient in the room, are they concerned with opposite gender hospital staff or visitors? What about the possibility of same gender homosexuals posing a risk? Just use some common sense when you are in the hospital, just like when you are anywhere public, keep yourself covered up with proper clothing and use the curtains or blankets. Remember, a hospital is not a summer camp, where you choose your accommodations and room mate.