Scarborough woman walks home from hospital with COVID-19 diagnosis

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A Scarborough, Ont., woman is calling for better transportation options after she walked home from hospital for more than an hour. Just days earlier, she had tested positive for COVID-19. – May 3, 2020

A Scarborough, Ont., woman wants to see better transportation options available to hospital patients after she walked for more than an hour home in the days following her COVID-19 diagnosis.

“I said, ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous. I could get to Italy and back for less than that,'” Charlotte (not her real name) said of her experience at Centenary Hospital in Scarborough on April 24, when she said a nurse offered to connect her with transportation for the short ride home for $1,200 or contact one of her adult children to pick her up.

“I just looked at him, like, ‘You got to be kidding.’ I said, ‘I’m COVID-19 positive and you want me to ask one of my kids — who have kids — to pick me up?’ I said, ‘There’s no way.'”

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Global News agreed to conceal her true identity because of fears she said her COVID-19 diagnosis would cause among others living in her building.

She said she received positive test results for the virus on April 19.

READ MORE: Inside the ICU: What staff at a Toronto hospital have learned about COVID-19

Charlotte was among 97 Canadians on the Coral Princess cruise ship, which saw an outbreak of the virus after departing Santiago, Chile, on March 5. Two passengers died on board.

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After nine hours of tests at the hospital, Charlotte — who is just over 65 — opted to walk more than an hour home with her daughter trailing by car to ensure she was safe.

“I was put in a compromised situation because I was now expected to break the quarantine laws and walk home — in public,” she said.

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Leigh Duncan, a spokesperson for the Scarborough Health Network, told Global News by email that when a patient doesn’t have transportation home, staff will first try to connect the patient to family. If that isn’t an option, taxi, other private or not-for-profit providers are also available, with a mask provided to the driver and patient.

“Patient safety, privacy and patient experience are of the utmost importance to us, and we strive to provide patients with options that are aligned with their specific circumstances,” Duncan wrote.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Latest developments in the Greater Toronto Area on May 3


The City of Toronto is developing policies and procedures for transporting people who may have COVID-19 to protect drivers and residents, spokesperson Alex Burke told Global News by email. He said discussions with Beck Taxi and other transportation companies are ongoing.

Charlotte said the walk took a lot out of her, but she feels well. She said she hopes future patients will be offered more options.

“We’re not talking about ordinary times. … It’s a whole different kettle of fish when you are COVID-19 positive,” she said.

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