Ohio Hospital Denies Woman Her Deceased Wife’s Medical Records: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 10.01.53 AM

Marcia Gallas, a woman from Blue Ash, Ohio, has been denied access to her recently deceased spouse's medical records. While Gallas and her attorney have a federal injunction that is based on a similar case from Cincinnati, Bethesda North Hospital says they cannot release the information due to "state and federal privacy laws."

Watch a WCPO report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 10.02.08 AMTo Gallas, it seems the hospital's rationale for this denial is that they are waiting for Ohio's marriage equality fight to make its way through the courts. Said Gallas:

I'm grieving…It's going to take a long time to get over Barbara and I really don't understand why they won't recognize… what am I to think except that they have a problem with same sex marriage?

Gallas is trying to obtain the records of former spouse Barbara Graham because Graham participated in an 18-year study that requires the records.

While Bethesda North is stubborn in their position, Gallas did not have the same problems getting records from Cincinatti's Jewish Hospital. Said Gallas:

They [Bethesda North] just aren't budging… All they need to do is release her medical records, that's all I'm asking for…I don't think that's too much to ask for.

Gallas can get permission from Graham's sons to access the records, but this could take weeks to process.

[h/t WCPO]



  1. barryearle says

    Three simple words: Power of Attorney. Every queer couple needs to execute, sign and notarize Power of Attorney for Legal Decisions and for Medical Decisions. They aren’t expensive and absolutely essential. Also, single queers should find someone who agrees to act as their Power of Attorney in emergency situations if the person is unable to communicate. Even though my spouse and I are legally married, when he recently was in a serious auto accident it was the Power of Attorney document that allowed me to move forward on essential decisions. Do it! Now! Today! Don’t wait!

  2. foureightysix says

    Thanks Barry Early for the good advice. :-)

    That said, what the hospital is doing to this poor woman is beyond contemptible. I hope every hospital staff member acting out the hospital’s will gets some serious bad karma for it in THIS lifetime. I hope some nasty bullies play keep-away with something very important to them one day, with the law backing it up…

  3. RussTX says

    Um, from what I’ve read, POA, while extremely important for couples, ends at the moment of death, so it would be of no use in this case. But anyone concerned should check with legal authorities in their state to make certain, and not rely on the comments on this website.

  4. foureightysix says


    The competent authority generating the POA would be the one to advice what it covers.

    I’m not saying both of you are wrong, but I do know you’re both at least incorrect in some cases about POA ending at death.

    I have POA on somebody and it was done specifically to protect ME in the event of their untimely death.

  5. northalabama says

    i’m sure the hospital would have no issues collecting any unpaid medical expenses from an “unrecognized” spouse – this is disgusting, and the hospital should be ashamed.

    my heart goes out to marcia.

  6. Sue! says

    I think if you start jailing hospital administrators and members of the hospital board for contempt, and suing them for damages, you might get some relief.

  7. NotSafeForWork says

    A POA expires at death of the person granting it and the named executor of the estate takes over to handle the affairs and the wishes of the deceased person.

    The hospital might be handling this according to the law, but the moral aspect of it is exactly the reason why we need to end these bigoted marriage laws once and for all.

    The solution to this problem would have been to obtain a full copy of the medical records prior to the death, or of course, allow the son to make the request.

    Annoying, yes, but one more reason these laws need to go.

  8. Bill says

    @northalabama : that suggests an idea – if the hospital is refusing to recognize a same-sex marriage for purposes of releasing medical records, then maybe a spouse should not recognize that hospital’s bills, and simply state in court that the hospital can’t have it both ways.

    A little pressure on the bottom line might get this hospital to change its tune PDQ.

  9. NotSafeForWork says

    @Bill…they can’t have it both ways, and they don’t. The hospital cant pursue her spouse for the bills anymore than they can pursue you or me. Remember, these women have no recognized relationship in the state of Ohio. The bills, if any, quite obviously are now the burden of Barbara’s estate, and will be rightfully paid as such.

  10. Marcia Gallas says

    This federal judgment states that I am next of kin. I am the surviving spouse on Barbara’s death certificate. The hospital is breaking the law. And I had a POA (no longer recognized after death). I am next-of-kin but the hospital doesn’t want to recognize it. I have the law on my side and it has nothing to do with Ohio’s stay on same-sex marriage. Stay tuned and DO read this. I know it’s dry reading but if I can help other same sex widows/widowers from going through this, then it will have been worth it! http://www.freedomtomarry.org/page/-/files/pdfs/ObergefellDeclaratoryJudgment.pdf

  11. NotSafeForWork says

    Marcia, my sympathies for your loss. That order was specific to the Obergefell case plaintiffs only. Do your attorneys think you will have any success to have it expanded to apply to you or will you need to begin anew? It’s a shame that LGBT people have to go through this, but stay strong during your fight! You’ll be making history and paving the way for others to have the freedom they are guaranteed by the US Constitution. Good luck!

  12. Jim says

    Marcia, I am so sorry for your loss AND for this indignity. My partner of 24 yrs died in 2012 and when I needed medical records, the letter testementary (Nj) seemed to be the key document required though if the hospital had prior record of our NJ civil union then they released records to me without requiring documentation. What documentation is the hospital looking for?

  13. Marcia Gallas says

    Hi folks. No, the Obergefell case paved the way for the rest of us. The key was that Grunn Funeral Home was also a plaintiff in the case. We used Grunn. That made it legal to have my name listed on her death certificate as her surviving spouse. Another hospital released her medical records. Our attorney is going to be speaking with the hospital’s attorney today to see if she has read the injunction he sent. I have to VERY prominent attorneys that know the law and say that the hospital is breaking it. The very fact that they would release Barbara’s medical records if her sons sign a release, tells you that they do not recognize me as her next-of-kin. If they do not comply with the law, they are going to be in mighty big trouble. I’m not worried. I’m just amazed that they are putting me through this, needlessly!

  14. Marcia Gallas says

    I have GREAT news! Bethesda North Hospital did the right thing and turned over Barb’s medical records to complete her long-term medical study! I didn’t have to fill out any additional forms NOR did I need to have our sons authorize the release of her records. I HAD their authorization but on principle, I didn’t want to have to go that route! Now Barb Graham’s wishes have been honored and the legality of our marriage has been validated! Now we can focus on the upcoming rulings with respect to same-sex marriage and hope that the 6th district court comes through! Thanks to everyone for your support! And I will let you know when my follow-up interview happens because Channel 9 wants to do another interview. Oh, and I MUST thank Cincinnati’s superstar attorney, Scott Knox ! You are AWESOME!!!

Leave A Reply