UHN apologizes for Toronto General vent grate that's 'hostile' to the homeless
Emergency department grate was installed specifically to deter homeless people, OHN president says
The University Health Network (UHN) apologized Wednesday for installing a grate over a vent outside of the Toronto General Hospital's Emergency Department specifically to deter homeless people from sleeping there, and says it will be removed.
"Given our responsibility to provide compassionate care, it has indeed been seen as hostile and not something a hospital should be doing, given the care we provide to everyone who comes through our doors."
Chan said the grate was installed because the area sees significant traffic from cars, ambulances and people. There were also safety concerns with garbage and needles.
"In solving that problem, we created the impression that we are unfeeling and unconcerned about the needs of the homeless," Chan added. "Of course, this isn't true. People at UHN are kind, compassionate and provide daily care for people who don't have a home."
Emergency staff have tried to help homeless: UHN
UHN spokesperson Gill Howard told CBC's Metro Morning last Thursday that many Toronto General Emergency staff have already tried to help the homeless in front of the hospital.
"The people in that department know a great deal about why people are homeless and what we could do for them," she said. "I would say the staff in our emergency department actually know those people by name. They know their circumstances. They've tried to get them help."
"Being outside of a hospital, a place that's supposed to be a refuge, a place for people to get help, I think it sends a very strong message to vulnerable populations that they're not wanted there," she told Metro Morning.
In addition to removing the grate, Chan added that the hospital's Security and Facilities staff will work to ensure that the area will be safe. He also said UHN would work with emergency department staff to help those who are homeless.
Howard told Metro Morning that the UHN was already looking at ways to help the homeless.
"The problem is the resources that are available, the time that's needed to get people into those resources and the places that they should be and could be for help and how we get them there," she added.
With files from Metro Morning