New Jersey Catholic Hospital Agrees to Post Publicly Its Policies Concerning Treatment of Transgender Patients

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“With this settlement, transgender patients entering St. Joseph’s Healthcare System are assured they will continue to receive the medications previously prescribed for the treatment of gender dysphoria.”
September 24, 2021

Lambda Legal today announced it has come to a settlement with St. Joseph’s Healthcare System of Paterson, New Jersey, on behalf of Jionni Conforti, a transgender man denied treatment for his gender dysphoria by the hospital in 2015. According to the settlement, the case has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties and the resolution does not constitute an admission of liability by any party.

“With this settlement, transgender patients entering St. Joseph’s Healthcare System are assured they will continue to receive the medications previously prescribed for the treatment of gender dysphoria while hospitalized,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Senior Attorney and Health Care Strategist, Lambda Legal. “As important, the St. Joseph’s Healthcare System will post publicly its policies on the treatment of transgender patients, both the new maintenance policy agreed to above, and a clear statement that the hospital does not initiate or recommend any treatment for gender dysphoria in its patients’ bill of rights.

“We do not condone St. Joseph’s Healthcare’s insistence to not initiate or provide medical care for gender dysphoria, and hope that this measure of transparency will avoid confusion for transgender patients led to believe that St. Joseph’s Healthcare System does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity,” Gonzalez-Pagan added. “Lambda Legal will continue to fight for transgender people across the country denied equal access to medically necessary health care.”

In June 2015, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center informed Conforti that, “as a Catholic Hospital,” it could not perform the routine hysterectomy that Conforti’s providers had prescribed as medically necessary for the treatment of Conforti’s gender dysphoria. As St. Joseph’s was the only hospital where Conforti’s intended surgeon had admitting privileges, Conforti was forced to begin the whole process again with another doctor. Eighteen months later, Lambda Legal, along with pro-bono co-counsel at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, filed suit against St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

“Quinn Emanuel is proud to have fought for transgender patients’ rights, and we hope this important settlement encourages other hospitals to be transparent about their treatment policies,” said co-counsel Todd Anten of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.

Specifically, according to the settlement agreement, the two policy changes include:

Maintenance. SJH will enact a clear policy that transgender patients who are admitted to SJH hospitals will be allowed to maintain medication(s) a patient is already on, as previously prescribed by their non-SJH health care provider, provided the medication is not contraindicated as determined by SJH.  This policy pertains solely to the maintenance of an admitted patient’s preexisting course of treatment, as previously determined by their non-SJH health care provider, and does not mean SJH hospitals have to initiate or recommend any treatment for gender dysphoria, including medications.

Transparency. SJH will display on its website, which applies to all SJH hospitals, together with the Patients’ Bill of Rights, the maintenance policy outlined above, as well as state that they will treat transgender patients in accordance with the Catholic faith and the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services, as amended by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The case was litigated by Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan and Staff Attorney Carl S. Charles, joined by pro-bono co-counsel Todd Anten, Tom Barnes, and Jaclyn Palmerson of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.

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Related Issues: Health Care Fairness

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