Louisiana Nursing Home Reverses Course and Agrees To Take Man with HIV; Lambda Legal Continues Discrimination Claims Against Five Others that Blocked Him

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Agreement with Kentwood Manor reunites stroke patient Cecil Little with his family
October 8, 2003

(Kentwood, Louisiana, October 8, 2003) - Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund said today that a stroke patient who was rejected by six Louisiana nursing homes because he has HIV has been admitted by one of the facilities, Kentwood Manor in Kentwood, Louisiana. Under the agreement, Lambda Legal plans to drop legal action against Kentwood Manor, but continues discrimination claims against the five other nursing homes that refused to admit the man, causing him to live hours from his family.

“With this agreement, Kentwood Manor did the right thing in this case, both ethically and legally, and we commend them for it,” said Jonathan Givner, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s AIDS Project. “This is really all Cecil Little and his family wanted all along -- to be within a few minutes drive, so the family can provide support as Cecil works toward recovery.”

Early this year, 50-year-old Cecil Little suffered two consecutive strokes and brain aneurysms, leaving him on life support and in a coma for a month. A month before Little was discharged from the hospital, his mother and his sister approached six nursing homes within six miles of where they live. All of the homes agreed to care for Little, but after learning of his HIV status, all of them backed out. Little had no choice but to live in a nursing home 160 miles round-trip from his family.

In July, Lambda Legal filed complaints with the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights against Kentwood Manor and the five other area nursing homes. The HHS investigation into the other homes will continue. “These five nursing homes violated federal law by refusing to care for someone with HIV, and we’re pursuing the remaining complaints to hold these facilities accountable,” Givner said. In the discrimination complaints, Lambda Legal argues that the nursing homes are in violation of the federal Rehabilitation Act that prohibits facilities that receive federal funds from discriminating against people with disabilities. Since the nursing homes accept Medicare or Medicaid, they are bound by this law.

Little has made significant strides in his recovery, according to his family. Currently, he is capable of walking with limited assistance and most recently he has made a lot of progress with his speech. He is fed through a tube and requires assistance bathing. Gloria Rowe, Little’s sister helped him move into his new room. “He’s so close now we can visit a lot more often. I plan on stopping by this afternoon to help him decorate his room to make it look more like a cozy home-because he is home finally,” Rowe said.

The five other homes are Tangi Pines in Amite, Belle Maison Nursing Home, Heritage Manor and Hammond Nursing Home all located in Hammond as well as Heritage Manor in Franklinton.

The discrimination Little faced is a growing national problem, according to Lambda Legal. "Cecil Little's situation is heartbreaking -- but it isn't unique," said Givner. "As people with HIV and AIDS live longer, they have medical needs that aren't always related to HIV. The nursing homes and other facilities they turn to for help may react with fear and turn them away -- which is clearly illegal."


Contact: Lisa Hardaway 212-809-8585 ext.266; pager: 888-987-1971

About Lambda Legal’s AIDS Project
Lambda Legal was founded in 1973 to advance the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, and began working on behalf of people with HIV and AIDS at the onset of the epidemic in the 1980s. Lambda Legal filed the first AIDS discrimination case in the nation in 1983, and later successfully forced hospitals to treat people with HIV and pushed prescription drug companies to lower the cost of HIV and AIDS treatments. Lambda Legal’s AIDS Project has won critical victories on behalf of people with HIV and AIDS to be treated equally and with dignity in employment, medical services, public accommodations, parenting and other areas of life.


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