Ladysmith Community Health Centre. (Cole Schisler photo)

Ladysmith Community Health Centre. (Cole Schisler photo)

Island Health apologizes after mom says Ladysmith urgent care treatment was racist

Community leaders call for action and real change to address systemic racism

Island Health has issued an apology after an alleged racist incident occurred at Ladysmith Community Health Centre.

A mother says that staff at LCHC discriminated against her and her 13-year-old daughter as they sought care for her daughter’s unexplained back pains and shortness of breath on Jan. 22. The mother said she believes they were discriminated against because they are Indigenous. She spoke with the Chronicle on condition of anonymity due to concerns of targeted online harassment.

RELATED: Healthcare racism probe must go to systemic roots, not just ‘bad apples’

“First we took my daughter to NRGH [Nanaimo Regional General Hospital] for emergency. She had back pain, a bad headache, shortness of breath, and her whole body was starting to feel sore,” she said.

Staff at NRGH took a urine sample, conducted a COVID-19 test, and took x-rays. She was given a prescription for an inhaler and discharged from NRGH while awaiting test results. Staff said to seek further care if her pain levels increased.

“We were almost home, and my daughter couldn’t sit still — she was in so much pain,” the mother said. “I thought because we were closer to Ladysmith Urgent Care that we should go there.”

When they arrived at LCHC, the mother said a nurse treated them more like a nuisance than a patient.

“She said ‘if you’ve already been seen why don’t you just go back home?’ I tried to explain to her that the doctor said if she’s in any more pain she needs to be checked out.”

The mother said that before she and her daughter were allowed into the waiting room they were told they needed to change their masks, but weren’t allowed to throw their old masks in the garbage. They were made to keep their masks in their pockets instead.

Once they saw a doctor, the treatment got worse.

“He said, ‘You should be at home, think about your Elders. You’re supposed to be isolating.’ I told him I was thinking about my Elders. I just wanted to know what was wrong with my daughter, she was in pain,” the mother said.

“It felt like he was really annoyed that we were there. I remember telling him he didn’t have to treat us so unfairly.”

Eventually the doctor gave the 13 year old some Tylenol, and allegedly said that she either ‘had COVID and you can die from that, or you have a kidney infection and you can die from that too.’ The doctor then left the room.

“My daughter looked at me right away. I hugged her and said ‘you’re not going to die.’ She looked so scared.”

A few days later, test results determined that the 13-year-old was suffering from a bladder infection. She’s expected to recover quickly.

The incident prompted a joint statement from Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris and Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone condemning racism.

“We need to take serious action, we can’t just put our heads in the sand, but recognize it,” Stone said. “We need to identify, name, and reconcile with the past to ensure the future is better for everyone.”

Island Health also released a statement to the Chronicle acknowledging ‘systemic racism’ in their health authority.

RELATED: Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

“Island Health acknowledges that this patient did not receive culturally safe care and the care provided did not meet the family’s expectations. We are deeply concerned about the impact of this experience on the patient, their family, the Stz’uminus First Nation, and the broader community.”

Island Health said officials are working with the patient’s family, and Stz’uminus First Nation to address the incident and prevent future incidents from occurring in their health authority.

“Island Health acknowledges systemic Indigenous-specific racism occurs within our health authority. Our patients and communities can be assured we are taking action, and the steps that we are taking will continue to be guided by Indigenous leaders and communities.”

Chief Harris said that she’s tired of apologies, and wants to see concrete actions to address systemic racism in health care.

“There’s been apologies made in the past, there’s been apologies made to our young mother who went through this racial discrimination here in Ladysmith. I’m tired of hearing the apologies — the empty apology — because it continues to happen. We hear about it almost every day,” Harris said.

“I’m looking for action. They can apologize until their blue in the face, but I won’t believe it until I actually see change happen.”

Just Posted

North Island Gazette
EDITORIAL: What to do about homelessness in Port Hardy

‘people suffering from homelessness deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion’

North Island Eagles logo
North Island Eagles give update on the upcoming 2021-2022 season

The North Island Eagles minor rep hockey teams are getting ready for… Continue reading

Ma Murrays 2021 virtual ceremony screenshot
North Island Gazette wins big at 2021 Ma Murray Newspaper Awards

Zoe Ducklow and Bill McQuarrie both won gold at the online ceremony

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact they recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 4 deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Most Read