featured Healthcare Racism

Raymond Sheppard: Passed over

Photo Wikipedia Citobun

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – On Sunday December 01, 2019, I arrived at the Emergency Department of the IWK Hospital for Children in Halifax at approximately 3:50 PM, along with my 7 year old grandson. 

My grandson had been at the children’s hospital two days prior to December 01, 2019, due to congestion, a cough, cold chills and fever. We returned  because he had developed pain in his head and pressure in his sinuses and eyes. This was of concern to me mainly because he was crying as if the pain was significant. 

When we walked into the facility there were three parents, each with a single child, waiting to be triaged, so we waited for ten minutes before a nurse asked us to follow her to a secondary triage area. We did so and we explained what brought us to the hospital that afternoon. From this secondary triage location, I overheard two parents stating that their child was coughing, had a fever and was congested, one of the two parents stated that this situation had gone on for several days.

After going through triage and having my grandson topped up with Tylenol, we waited in the general waiting area before registering, as there were others ahead of us. I noticed that the waiting area had eight parents with a single child per parent ahead of us. We were called to register and did so, and then proceeded to find seating and sit down.

During the next hour and a half an additional seven parents arrived with a single child and one with two young boys.  

My grandson played games on my cell phone to pass the time and at one point I accessed the kitchen to make him a jam sandwich with apple juice. Around seven o’clock, I noticed how several children that arrived after my grandson and I, were called in to see a doctor and we were left sitting. 

I inquired once as to where we might be on the list and was told that we were approximately 5th. I really did not understand this but I returned to my seat and continued to amuse my grandson. At 8 PM my grandson wanted to leave where he was tired and bored, I suggested we remain for an additional twenty minutes. 

As 8:20 PM, I decided to leave but not before I let staff know we were leaving and seek some kind of explanation for why we were being overlooked. I had concluded we were being overlooked and left at the back of the bus because of our ethnicity.

When I explain my concerns to the charge nurse, she gave a typical answer, “we do not discriminate due to race, orientation, income or whatever. The conditions of others might have required more immediate attention and might have been more serious and conditions change.”  

I replied, “I expected this response and I am sure you say this often,” she replied “yes, but only to the part of conditions changing.” 

 I looked out toward the triage area and saw a female person of African descent and stated,  well there is another person of African descent I wonder how she will make out.”

I exited the building, feeling what many of my people must have felt time and time again. Privilege over need.

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