‘I felt helpless’: Patient concerned about Kelowna General Hospital staff masking habits

Click to play video: 'Patient photographs hospital staff without masks'
Patient photographs hospital staff without masks
WATCH: A patient is sharing her experiences at Kelowna General Hospital. – Apr 22, 2021

A Kelowna patient is sharing her experiences at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH).

The woman says she felt helpless watching some hospital staff walk around unmasked.

While it’s unclear if any rules were broken, the health authority is using the incident as a learning opportunity.

The KGH patient, whose name Global News has agreed to withhold, is speaking out about a picture she took from her hospital bed last week that appears to show some staff without masks.

“I noticed that when the nurses went into the nurses station, a large number of them, four or five of them, would take off their masks and not be very far away from me at all,” the patient said.

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“Unfortunately, some of them would forget to put their masks back on as they would walk out of the nurses station, so they were walking right by the end of my bed and up and down the hall without their masks on.”

A closeup from a picture taken by a KGH patient of people at a nurses’ station not wearing masks. Global News has blurred the individuals’ faces. Submitted

The patient said she made the observation while in a surgery recovery area last week and has since lodged a complaint with the health authority.

“At that point, after my surgery, I wasn’t allowed to get up, I wasn’t even allowed to raise my head or do anything. I felt helpless…I felt I was being exposed,” the patient said.

“I was shocked because there has been outbreaks in the hospital.”

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The health authority say there are guidelines for personal protective equipment it expects staff to follow.

“These guidelines include the wearing of masks anytime our staff are within six feet of one another or of other individuals,” said Karen Bloemink, Interior Health’s interim VP of pandemic response and surgical strategy.

While it’s hard to definitively say, from a single picture, if the six-foot rule was broken, the health authority is looking at the incident as a learning opportunity.

“This incident is and will serve as a good reminder for our staff around the fact that they do need to remain vigilant and continue to be following those guidelines,” Bloemink said.

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