Métis man says it was racist for security guards to kick him out of Winnipeg hospital
Hospital investigating after security guards 'did not meet the threshold of patient care'
A Métis man says it was racist of security guards to kick him out of a Winnipeg hospital while he waited for care, in pain from a nail lodged in his left arm.
Larry Chief had spent three hours overnight in the Health Sciences Centre emergency waiting room on Wednesday morning when he was approached by security. The officers noticed he was holding a phone and accused him of recording, he said.
Chief, 40, said he was escorted out of HSC, despite pleading with the three security guards that he wasn't taking video and insisting he had to stay put to receive medical care.
"I showed them, I said, 'I got a three-inch nail through my arm.' And he said, 'I don't care; go somewhere else' — his exact words."
Chief believes he was singled out because of the colour of his skin.
"They probably thought I was drunk, which I was not. I was just in pain, moaning … and they really just made me feel like I was unwanted."
Chief contacted HSC's patient relations office to complain. The hospital says it immediately started to investigate, and said on Monday their security officers crossed the line.
"We take the allegations of Mr. Chief very seriously and offer him our sincere apologies for the treatment he received while at our facility," Ronan Segrave, HSC chief operating officer, said in an email to CBC News.
WATCH | Larry Chief describes treatment from hospital security guards:
Although the security officers appeared to have been "motivated by the need to ensure the privacy of other patients," Segrave said, "their actions in this case did not meet the threshold of patient care that we expect."
The hospital said its investigation is ongoing and it couldn't comment on the potential for disciplinary action.
Chief said he wants security officers to be better trained in dealing with people. The hospital said security staff already take Indigenous cultural awareness training.
"They think they run the show there and can do whatever they want in my case, and probably a lot of other people's cases."
Nail gun injury 'really painful'
On Tuesday, Chief said he was helping a friend with some home renovations when he accidentally shot himself with a nail gun. The pin impaled his arm, barely missing the bone, he said.
"It didn't bleed, but it was stuck in there — and it's really, really painful."
Chief was transported that evening to the nearby hospital in Ashern, Man. The medical professional couldn't pull the nail out on his own, so Chief was sent instead to HSC. He arrived early Wednesday, after midnight.
He was told to stay in the ER waiting room, where he said triage staff didn't take his concerns seriously. They were slow to get him the painkiller he asked for, he said.
Accused of recording
Over the span of three hours, he occasionally groaned from the pain, but said he tried to stay as quiet as he could.
Sometime around 3:30 a.m., Chief was holding out his right arm, carrying his cellphone around waist-level when he said he was approached by security and asked to leave. He said he obliged because he didn't want a physical altercation while he's already wounded.
He was left outside, in the middle of the night, by himself, he said.
"It hurt me," he said. "I wasn't causing a scene, I wasn't drunk, I wasn't being a nuisance."
He said two men in the waiting room recognized that. They followed Chief outside and told him the security guards' actions seemed to be inappropriate.
Chief said he called his step-dad to transport him to St. Boniface Hospital, where he was promptly taken into care and put under anesthesia. He commends the staff there for the care he received.
The Manitoba Metis Federation is launching its own investigation into Chief's experience at HSC.
If they find evidence of wrongdoing, MMF Minister of Health Frances Chartrand said that someone should be held accountable.
"I just think about some of the people that are going to the hospital, or if you're Indigenous … they don't look at your wants and your needs, they look at who you are and how you look," Chartrand said.
She recalled an incident where her sister was asked by hospital staff if she was a treaty member — a question that has no bearing on her hospital treatment, Chartrand said.
She said it's clear the health-care system still has a problem with racism, evidenced only last week after video surfaced of Joyce Echaquan, who died in a Quebec hospital after filming staff making degrading comments about her.
"I empathize with that family," she said.
"And I wonder what people are thinking and what they're doing? What kind of care that they have for Indigenous people, people across Canada, especially in the Métis nation homeland?"