Oct 30 2010
CANADA: A couple is facing a $750 hospital bill after they had to leave a ward in Kingston General Hospital’s maternity ward because a Muslim woman was breastfeeding her newborn.
The Whig John Kennedy said he and another man were also forbidden from using the sink in the shared bathroom to dampen cloths so they could clean their babies.
He and his wife and the other couple were moved out of the room on religious grounds that were made clear to him by medical staff on the floor, who said unrelated men are forbidden from being in the room while the Muslim woman was breastfeeding.
Kennedy’s wife had an emergency C-section on Nov. 15 and was barely able to move, let alone care for their newborn, as a result of the surgery. The couple were moved into a private room, where Kennedy could use the sink but the couple were later billed $250 a day by the hospital for the upgrade.
After seven months of trying to have the hospital cancel the bill for a room he never asked for or needed, he says he has had enough. “It’s political correctness gone mad,” he said. “My wife and I were quite content in that room, and we would have been quite happy if they had moved us into a closet, quite frankly.”
Kennedy said his wife was in one of those quads, as was another non-Muslim couple. A single mother occupied the fourth bed. Kennedy said staff told him he was not allowed to use the shared washroom in the room, which he said did not initially seem to be an issue. “We were told we couldn’t use the bathroom and that was no big deal because when I needed to use the bathroom, I went to the one down the hall,” he said.
“I work in a hospital and you never use the bathroom in a patient’s room, but they told us we couldn’t even use the sink,” said Kennedy. “I needed to wash out cloths when I changed my baby’s diaper, and I couldn’t be going down the hall to the public washroom every time I needed to do that.”
He also said he and the other man had to leave the room every time the Muslim woman was breastfeeding, which she did in the bed behind the curtain, invisible to the other occupants of the room.
He said he had no problem with another culture’s values but questioned why the Muslim couple were not moved into a private room if the presence of other men in a shared room in a public hospital was an issue.
He, his wife and their new baby were moved to a private room after saying that the conditions on the ward were untenable, especially as he was providing most of the care to his new baby after his wife’s operation and couldn’t keep leaving the room.
After he and his wife left the hospital after three days, he got the $750 bill, which he refused to pay and over which he has been fighting the hospital since, with no success. Kennedy says he has gone to the patient advocate and other officials at the hospital, who reviewed the bill but ultimately told him he had to pay it. He does not have insurance at work that would cover the upgrade.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people about it, charge nurses and other people who work at the hospital and they think it’s outrageous. They say ‘No way,’ ” he said. H/T Susan K