(This is an important resolution to this chilling story. The diary comes from Carla, a longtime friend of Calitics who is working to help raise the profile of California’s end-of-life laws to ensure these stories never happen again. – promoted by Robert Cruickshank)
Full Disclosure: I am the Online Community Builder for Compassion & Choices, the nation’s consumer advocacy organization for improving care and expanding choice at the end of life.
Regardless of age or health status, none of us knows when a future event might leave us unable to speak for ourselves. The LGBT community faces additional challenges on this front, as there are few places where the community is afforded the same civil rights as married couples. Yet many in this community do not have advance directives or understand the potential need for a Hospital Visitation Authorization.
Sonoma County resident Clay Greene and his partner of 20 years Harold Scull did understand these needs. They had all the proper paperwork that’s recommended so that partners can make health care decisions. But the County ignored the paperwork, denied the couple’s partnership, sold off their possessions and kept them apart until one of the men died and the other was forced to file suit.
Scull was hospitalized in April 2008. Greene said his partner fell down the front steps of their Sebastopol home. The county public guardian’s office said Scull accused Greene of domestic violence, an allegation disputed by Greene’s lawyers and a representative of Scull’s estate.
According to the lawsuit, the public guardian’s office went to court to obtain conservatorship of Scull, whose mental health was deteriorating, and described Greene in court papers as Scull’s roommate, ignoring the powers of attorney both men had signed.
After moving Scull to an assisted living facility, the guardian’s office had Greene confined in a nursing home, falsely describing him as demented and referring to him in his presence as a “crazy old man,” the suit said.
County officials proceeded to terminate the men’s lease on their home and auction off all their possessions, including art works, furniture, heirlooms and their bank accounts, the suit said.
Scull died in August 2008. Greene’s lawyers said the partners never saw one another after they were separated.
Sonoma County denied violating the men’s rights. But last Friday, Greene’s lawyers said the county and a nursing home had agreed to a $653,000 settlement with Greene and the estate of Harold Scull.
This kind of elder abuse is tragic and horrible. Perhaps this settlement will be a warning to other entities to honor the end-of-life wishes of everyone, including gays and lesbians.
Compassion & Choices has a wealth of free tools and information (including state-approved advance directives) to help identify priorities and ensure wishes are honored. We encourage everyone to download our many free materials and get started right away. Our toll-free End-Of-Life Counseling service is also available to help at 1-800-247-7421.