A man from Victoria said he was denied access to emergency health care, despite a medical exemption from wearing a face mask.
Martin Girard, who lives in Our Place on Pandora Avenue, said he has been susceptible to ear infections for many years. When he felt severe pain indicating another was coming, he went to the emergency room at Royal Jubilee Hospital on the morning of November 17.
Girard said he showed his documents for a legitimate exemption from wearing a face mask, completed the admission form and was sent to wait in a COVID-19 isolation room for care where he waited 50 minutes.
When the doctor picked him up, he said, Girard was asked to wear a mask before an exam took place.
“I replied that I had an exemption, with the appropriate papers. He just told me he couldn’t continue because he has children and another doctor might show up for the exam, ”Girard said, noting that he told the doctor he was doubly vaccinated.
After waiting another 50 minutes to see another doctor, Girard felt he was being deliberately ignored and that emergency room staff hoped he would go on his own, he said.
“I refused to leave and ended up demanding to speak to someone, but the member of the reception staff ordered me out and at that point I categorically told him to call the police and to have me arrested for trespassing because I was not to leave without being examined.
Security guards escorted him out of the scene, he said, and told him he had a chance to get away – Girard stayed. The police showed up later, arrested him and drove him back to his home.
Girard told police he had been in pain for several days and had not made an appointment at nearby walk-in clinics due to the volume of calls.
“The police also took the staff’s version and the doctor told them he didn’t see anything wrong with me – that’s not true, he didn’t even examine me.
Police and security attempted to find a solution where it was then suggested that Girard wear a face shield. “No such solution had been proposed by the doctor,” says Girard.
“Specifically, it was suggested that I show up at 7 am the next morning at the security office and that security would do their best to mediate the situation by convincing the medical staff to see me with a face shield instead of ‘a face mask. “
Girard ended up being examined the next morning with a face mask, however, he said he remains disturbed by his initial experience since the ear infection he was diagnosed with was severe.
In a statement to Black Press Media, Island Health said privacy laws and its privacy policies prevent it from discussing or disclosing details about individual patients or the care they receive.
“We are always concerned when the care received does not meet a patient’s expectations, and we take all complaints of care seriously. We encourage those concerned about their care to contact the Island Health Patient Care Quality Office. All complaints are formally recorded, investigated and dealt with. This process allows Island Health to continually assess and improve our services, systems and policies.