The family of a stroke victim this week filed suit against a southeastern Louisiana nursing home that allegedly rejected the patient because he is HIV-positive. In July 2003 Cecil Little Jr.'s family filed a federal complaint against six nursing homes, claiming that all had violated a law prohibiting care facilities receiving federal funds--in this case Medicare and Medicaid--from discriminating against patients with disabilities. One of the six facilities named in that complaint, Kentwood Manor in Kentwood, La., later accepted Little, and he currently resides there.
New Orleans attorney Alexandra Mora, working with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, says Tuesday's lawsuit against Tangi Pines Nursing Center of Amite, La., would be the first of five lawsuits against the other homes. "We want to force the remaining homes to understand they can't discriminate against a patient with HIV and get away with it. There are people who are HIV-positive living longer lives who are going to need this kind of care, and we're trying to ensure they can receive proper care," says Mora. Tangi Pines administrators did not return a call for comment.
Lambda Legal spokeswoman Lisa Hardaway said one or two of the homes refused mediation offers and refused to discuss the issue. "This is the family's move to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Hardaway, noting that the lawsuits would try and force the homes to adopt a nondiscrimination policy. The suit also seeks money for Little's family. Mora says she plans to file similar suits against Heritage Manor in Franklinton, La., and three facilities in Hammond, La.--Belle Maison Nursing Home, Heritage Manor, and Hammond Nursing Home. (AP)