Calgary long-haul trucker questions why he wasn't allowed to escort his wife to surgery

A Calgary truck driver says he just wanted to get his wife checked in for surgery and relay a couple of questions to her doctor but was refused entrance to the hospital because of his occupation.

'It doesn't make any sense,' says Jagdeep Singh

Jagdeep Singh and his wife Kanwalbir Kaur. Singh was turned away from accompanying his wife as she was admitted to Peter Lougheed Centre. (Submitted by Jagdeep Singh)

A Calgary truck driver says he just wanted to get his wife checked in for surgery and relay a couple of questions to her doctor but was refused entrance to the hospital because of his occupation.

Jagdeep Singh and his wife, Kanwalbir Kaur, arrived at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary on Wednesday morning for Kaul's scheduled surgery.

Singh said they had been waiting nearly a year for her operation.

He is a commercial truck driver and said he drove all night to make sure he was home to support his wife and care for their three-year-old daughter while Kaur was in hospital.

"I was in B.C. and I just reached Calgary around 5:30 in the morning and her appointment was at 6:30 in the morning. So I just came straight from my job, home to shower, and then we just went to the hospital straight from there," he said.

Singh said it was important to his wife that he be there, because she is a newcomer to Canada and isn't as confident as he is to carry on conversations in English, especially, he said, because in this case the conversation would involve important medical information.

"The lady at the front was asking the reason why we are here and I told her my wife is having surgery today and I just want to see the doctor and I just want to talk to him. I will drop her and then I'm going back [home], " Singh told CBC News.

"And she said because you are going to the States, I'm not allowing you to go into the hospital. And then she called a peace officer over and he told me the same thing."

Singh said he was told he should have isolated for the past 14 days if he expected to enter the hospital.

Truck drivers exempt from self-isolation

Canadian commercial truck drivers aren't subject to the self-isolation rules that other Canadians must follow when they re-enter the country.

They are among the professions considered to be essential service providers, carrying food and other vital products from the U.S.

That makes truck drivers exempt from the 14-day quarantine period required for others who have travelled across the border.

Alberta Health Services said in an emailed statement that difficult decisions have had to be made to limit the interactions between patients, visitors and the staff providing care.

And AHS said those decisions are not taken lightly.

"We understand the importance of staying emotionally and socially connected to our loved ones. We believe that patients and families are full partners in health care and for that reason, we have taken steps to continue to welcome family presence at our sites and facilities," AHS said. 

AHS said patients admitted to hospital may have two designated family/support persons while admitted.

A family/support person can be: 

  • Someone identified by the patient as an important support.
  • Someone the patient wants involved in their care and health matters.
  • A relative, legal guardian, close friend or formal/informal caregiver.

If the room is large enough for physical distancing to be maintained, both designated family/support persons may be permitted at the same time. If not, they must attend one at a time, AHS said. 

Facilities require a designated person to undergo a health screening and verify if they're authorized to enter, AHS said. 

It's that designated screening process that kept Singh out of the PLC.

Questionnaire will be reviewed

AHS said the current screening questionnaire for patients and family members does not address the industry exemptions related to out-of-the-country travel.

That's now being reviewed.

Singh said the lack of communication about the policy made an early, stressful day that much more difficult for his family, and he questions how the policy protects patients.

"It doesn't make any sense because my wife is living with me, so if anything happens to me, it's going to be the same with her because we are staying in one home and we are sharing everything. So it doesn't make any sense," he said. 


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