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Chinese woman tells VPD officer she’s scared of hospital because of COVID-19 stigma

Click to play video: 'VPD officer tweets out distressing story of racism' VPD officer tweets out distressing story of racism
A Vancouver Police sergeant took to social media after a wellness check on an elderly woman revealed the life-threatening impact of racism. Catherine Urquhart reports – Dec 8, 2020

A Vancouver police officer took to Twitter on Monday to share a heartbreaking story.

Earlier in the day, the police said they had received a call from a bank employee that one of their clients, an 84-year-old East Asian woman, had come into the branch with a bruised face and that they were concerned for her well-being.

Sgt. Sandra Glendinning went to check on the woman at her home.

“Upon opening the door, it was very obvious that the woman was very badly bruised and when asked what happened, she was very shy. She didn’t want to speak to police, she could barely even look at the officer and it did take some time to extract information,” spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin told Global News, speaking on the sergeant’s behalf.

“Her face is bruised from undergoing cancer treatments.”

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When asked why she hadn’t gone to the hospital, the woman told Glendinning that she’d read in the news about how East Asians have been victims of hate in Vancouver under the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She thought that just because she was of Asian descent … that people would think she would have it and she didn’t want to put herself at risk,” Visintin added.

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Are B.C. health officials concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 patients in hospital? – Sep 14, 2020

Earlier this year, Vancouver police reported a rise in anti-Asian crime amid the pandemic.

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In May, the department reported that it had opened 29 investigations into anti-Asian crime, compared to only four by the same time in 2019.

In July, the VPD said it has received 155 hate-associated reports from the public, compared to 69 for the same time in 2019.

The province has also appointed the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society to take on systemic and institutionalized racism, following a rise in racist incidents targeting Asian people.

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Doctors and health officials have expressed concern about people being scared to go to the hospital since the pandemic began.

“Our big concern is that people with potentially critical conditions and time-critical conditions are staying at home and not reporting into emergency departments or calling 811,” Dr. Daniel Kalla, the head of the emergency department for St. Paul’s and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital told Global News in April.

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Kalla wanted everyone to know that if they have to go to the emergency room, please do so.

“Our emergency rooms are safe now,” he said. “We have meticulous infection control and you’re at no higher risk coming to the emergency department than you are going to a supermarket or drugstore.

“We have a lot of capacity in the emergency department to manage non-COVID-related issues and people shouldn’t neglect their health and other concerns by avoiding us.”

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Read more: B.C. ER doctor concerned patients not seeking medical help due to coronavirus pandemic

Visintin said the experience with the elderly woman on Monday was “heartbreaking.”

“Our sergeant’s heart broke for this woman,” she said. “To hear her say that she was afraid to go to the hospital just because of her ethnicity and what other people would think, and what she thought came with being of this ethnicity, it’s heartbreaking and sad and frustrating.”

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They can only assume there are many other stories like this one they are not aware of, she added.

Glendinning helped the woman get medical attention, Visintin said, and she was eventually taken to hospital.

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