Unvaccinated caregiver says she was denied Montreal hospital visit

Christina Vasilescu says she was turned away by staff at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital last week. She and her lawyer say even though she's not vaccinated, Quebec's rules for caregivers should have allowed her to visit her aunt.

Christina Vasilescu says staff at the Jewish General Hospital didn't follow provincial guidelines

Christina Vasilescu (left) says she's always been close with her aunt Victoria (right). Victoria Vasilescu is currently in the palliative care unit at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital and Christina says despite being her caregiver, staff denied her visiting rights because she's not vaccinated. (Submitted by Christina Vasilescu)

Christina Vasilescu says she was surprised to be questioned and asked to leave while going to visit her aunt Victoria in the palliative care unit at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital. 

As her aunt's caregiver, Vasilescu says she regularly visited the hospital after Victoria went to the emergency room and was hospitalized with vascular issues requiring surgery. But on Nov. 22, she says, the doctors working that day confronted her.

"They asked me, 'Who gave you the permission to come in?'" she said, adding that doctors told her her aunt had more than two weeks to live and because Vasilescu isn't vaccinated she would have to leave the premises.

According to Vasilescu, she is her aunt's only remaining family in Canada.

"There's a lack of compassion," she said, "I have no words for that, it's really heartbreaking."

Not following the rules

Vasilescu says she's not vaccinated for medical reasons but declined to elaborate any further.

After she was denied entry to the hospital, she got in touch with lawyer Natalia Manole.

Manole informed her Quebec had issued a ministerial decree on Nov. 14 that modified the rules for unvaccinated or inadequately protected caregivers.

"[Caregivers] can still access hospitals and residences if they can present the proof of a negative COVID-19 test result that was taken within less than 72 hours," said Manole.

Vasilescu says hospital employees didn't mention the provincial guidelines when she was asked to leave the hospital or when she called the hospital later to follow up. 

Manole filed a motion in court and a judge has granted Vasilescu the right to visit her aunt.

"The judgment is valid for 10 days, until December 6," said Manole.

In a statement to CBC, a spokesperson for the local health board, the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Ile-de-Montréal, said it can't comment on specific cases but acknowledged the ministerial order regarding caregivers.

Denied entry despite court order, police called

On Sunday, Manole says Vasilescu was again denied entry to the hospital, despite the court order.

She says her client had to call police to intervene and only then was she able to visit her aunt. Montreal police confirmed officers were called to the hospital Sunday where they mediated talks between Vasilescu and hospital staff, who eventually let her in.

A spokesperson for the local health board could not immediately comment on the circumstances of the initial conflict. 

With files from Valeria Cori-Mannochio