Windsor father speaks out after his toddler was turned away from urgent care clinic
He hopes to share his experience so other parents don't go through something similar
A Windsor father says he and his son were turned away from an urgent care clinic in the city this week, because the toddler wasn't wearing a mask.
Hayat Daraz, a truck driver in Windsor, brought his 20-month-old son, Abraz, to Windsor Urgent Care Clinic on Tuesday, and was upset when staff denied his toddler medical care.
"He's a little child, so I cannot keep it on his face," said Daraz, who added he's tried on many occasions to get his son to wear a mask, but the little one refuses to keep it on.
Guidelines set out by the Public Health Agency of Canada state "non-medical masks or face coverings should not be placed on children under the age of two years." The City of Windsor's bylaw also states that children under the age of two aren't required to wear a mask within enclosed public spaces.
Even babies wear masks, says clinic
But the Windsor Urgent Care Clinic says its mandatory mask protocol was established at the beginning of the pandemic, and it applies to everyone.
"This is our protocol and even small babies are wearing it. And if there any issue with the patient or they cannot wear the mask, then we [send] them to the ER," said owner Wiquar Husain, adding that ERs are better equipped with PPE than his urgent care clinic.
Daraz said the interaction with clinic staff only lasted about a minute as he was focused on finding immediate care for his son who was suffering from pain in his arm.
"She didn't ask me what is the problem or what is his age or anything. Nothing else. It was a very short conversation and we just left and went for another clinic," he said.
"Luckily my son got treated somewhere else nearby within a short time, but it could have been different if the case was worse and if he had some other serious condition or something like that. So, I hope nobody will be suffering like this," said Daraz.
Daraz said Abraz got examined at Windsor Walk In Chiropractic after without having to wear a mask, but was redirected to Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette emergency where he was finally treated for his twisted elbow.
Ian Culbert, the executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association, believes Abraz should have been allowed service.
"The city bylaw that was passed on the 24th of August is very clear that there should be an exemption in this case in that business owner's policy and a medical clinic is considered a business no different than a hardware store or a grocery store," he said.
"It's incumbent upon that clinic to adhere to the city bylaw."
According to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, the Section 22 mandatory mask order, issued by its medical officer of health, does not apply to clinics since they are not a commercial setting.
In a statement to CBC News, the health unit said municipal mask bylaws may apply to the clinic.
Wiquar reiterates that as a clinic owner, "mask use is a safety issue. It is in step with the community and provincial wide recommendations regarding COVID-19 personal protection and prevention of disease transmission."
"As a medical clinic, we have the obligation to protect all our patients and staff from COVID-19 exposure and potential infection to the best of our ability. Mask usage is an integral part of this mission," he said, adding that physicians are the ones who get to decide who they're comfortable serving.
Wiquar said the parent's first choice should have been to take his son to a pediatrician or family doctor to get treated.