"We walked in there and I said my step daughter isn't feeling well, and she would like to be seen. And the lady automatically said I can't take her in there because she's my stepdaughter," said Gretchen Milliman.
Gretchen Milliman had taken her step daughter to the doctor many times before, and this was the first time she had been denied care. The nurses at Allegiance Express Care in Jackson recommended that she take her stepdaughter to the emergency room if she needed treatment urgently.
"It bothered me because it said stepparents aren't allowed to bring in there. Well, there's so many circumstances where the stepparents have to bring in their step kid, and I've been the stepmom for ten years."
But the nurses at Allegiance Express Care weren't being mean. They were following the law. Under Michigan law stepparents cannot decide when their step child needs medical treatment.
"A step parent it's my significant other's child. Therefore, I don't have those rights. I'm doing a favor really for the biological parent," said Brian Morley, attorney at Fraser Trebilcock law firm.
A representative for Allegiance Hospital told me that the child could have been seen at Allegiance Express Care if her father had filled out a form, available on their website, or provided another form of written consent. But because Milliman did not have that, she took her step daughter to the emergency room.
"I said the same thing. They took all of her information. We registered. We went and sat. We were at Foote Hospital (Allegiance) for five hours," said Milliman.
That five hour hospital visit was inconvenient, but Allegiance treated Millman's step daughter at the ER because no one can be denied emergency care.
"I'm sure exceptions can be made in emergency situations. Your step son gets hit by a car. You're not going to wait until your husband or wife gets home. You're going to take them to the hospital," said Morley.
Milliman was offended and inconvenienced by the hospital's protocol.
"It's not right," she said.
But as a stepparent, her rights are simply limited.
"A stepparent is, in my opinion, a created term. I don't believe in my opinion it gives you any real legal rights," said Morley.