Guildford clinic rejected baby with fever of 42° C
The front page story on the March 3, 2009 edition of The Now featured Jennifer Goosen, a 23-year-old welfare mother of 3, who took her four-month-old daughter Isabelle to Care Point Medical Centre for treatment of a serious 42°C fever that she caught a week ago.
However, a problem arose when Isabelle was found to have no BC Care Card, and the clinic subsequently charged her mother $65 to cover the visit. It then turned the family away after Jennifer could not pay the fee, and both mother and daughter had to wait in the emergency ward at Surrey Memorial Hospital for several hours before Isabelle received medical attention.
A family clinic turning away a baby with a killer fever is already a bad enough display of disregard for human life, but the fact that the clinic did so because Jennifer could not pay $65 in advance further shows how backwards and corrupt its practices are.
All doctors in all types of medical institutions in Canada have a legal and professional responsibility to obey human rights by helping patients first and asking for payment afterwards. Despite the long wait, the staff at Surrey Memorial Hospital lived up to that responsibility, so there is no excuse for this single clinic and its staff to be exempt. They trampled over the family's rights to medical treatment in the same manner as hospitals in poor and corrupt nations, where only those who pay get treated, and the clinic is receiving well-deserved criticism for doing so.
And what about the anonymous woman who told The Now that she was the manager of the clinic? She lambasted Jennifer Goosen for making the incident public via The Now instead of calling the BC Medical Service Plan. It was obvious that she was trying to pass the blame and make the welfare mother sound guilty, yet would she allow the same barring of treatment if her patient was someone such as an injured criminal or a sick illegal immigrant? It is ironic that these 'treat first, pay later' regulations must apply to people that aren't part of our society or cause problems for it, yet legitimate, law-abiding citizens are treated in the opposite way.
If there is anything about this incident that makes me slightly happy, it is the fact that it caught the attenttion of at least one politician. Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Sue Hammell called the act "outrageous" and added that "this company should be ashamed", and I could not agree with her more, especially considering the backlash that the clinic would have had to deal with had Isabelle succumbed to her deadly fever.
I applaud Jennifer Goosen and The Now for making such despicable actions by the clinic known to the local community. People in it will be more aware of what can go wrong at clinics without the right paperwork, and other clinics will take a look at the policies that they have in place to make sure similar conflicts with patients don't occur.
As for this clinic, I hope that it is dealt with properly by Care Point headquarters for the damage potentially done to the company's reputation. Moreover, I hope that the manager and her staff learn from this incident and follow the laws and rights instituted in Canada, or else the clinic can never hope to regain the full trust of its patients.
Zytaruk, T. (2009, March 3). Guildford clinic refused to treat baby with fever of 42° C. The Now, pp. 1, 3.