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Allegations of racist game in B.C. hospitals unfairly painting all medical staff, says Kelowna ER nurse

A Kelowna nurse says alleged racism in emergency rooms having a negative impact on medical staff

The disturbing allegations of racially motivated games being played in emergency rooms at B.C. Hospitals is taking a toll on medical staff, according to an ER nurse at Kelowna General Hospital.

In an interview with Global News, Sean Taylor said “me and the people that I work with are quite distraught over this.”

Last week, allegations surfaced that doctors and nurses at unnamed hospitals have been playing racist games that involve betting on the blood alcohol level of patients, primarily Indigenous ones.

Read more: Witnesses in investigation of alleged racist games at B.C. hospitals will likely be protected: Dix

Taylor, who’s worked in emergency rooms all over the Okanagan the last six years, said while it’s common practice to take educated guesses before a patient’s test result comes back, he says it’s not a game and certainly not racial  — at least not something he has ever experienced or witnessed.

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“We do this all day, every day in every ER that I’ve ever worked in. We have people coming in with various conditions, we’re trying to figure out what’s going on, ” Taylor told Global News.

“We’re guessing numbers all the time for all our patients, but to say that it’s specifically happening against Indigenous people, I have not witnessed that.”

Since the allegations have come to light, Taylor said there’s already been some unpleasant situations at KGH

“When someone doesn’t get what they want and they call you racist, “he said.

“I’ve just been noticing that increase in the last couple of days since all this started. We’ve had a couple of incidents recently.”

Allegations of racism in B.C. hospitals
Allegations of racism in B.C. hospitals

Taylor said emergency staff he’s worked with are dedicated, caring individuals and generalizations that racism is prominent throughout emergency rooms across the province are hurtful.

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“It’s disheartening to the staff, it’s had a negative impact on us with patient interactions and it’s been a hard pill to swallow,” he said.

On Friday, B.C.’s health minister Adrian Dix announced an investigation into the allegations, which will be led by the province’s former children’s watchdog and prominent Indigenous lawyer, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.

It’s not clear at which hospitals these alleged games were played or for how long it’s been going on.

Allegations of racist game played by emergency room staff
Allegations of racist game played by emergency room staff

Taylor said he supports the investigation, but hopes it’s fair.

“For the people that are operating under the presupposition that our healthcare system is systematically racist and you expect to find groups of racist nurses everywhere, I think you’re going to be disappointed,” Taylor said.

“But it doesn’t mean to say that given the climate that we’re in today, that innocent nurses aren’t going to be offered up as sacrifices and I’d hate to see that happen.”

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In the meantime, Taylor was compelled to come forward and speak about the impact the allegations are having on staff that he says are working hard during the challenging and unprecedented times of COVID-19.

“When you start slandering people just saying that there’s racism in emergencies across British Columbia,” said Taylor, “I think it paints us with an unfair brush.”