A B.C. woman is speaking out about an experience she had with a virtual doctor’s appointment through the TELUS Health app.
Carly McGhee told Global News she has used the service many times in the past as it’s hard to find a family doctor in Vancouver.
She couldn’t get an appointment for a week and it slipped her mind recently until she was in the middle of an at-home workout and received a notification about her call with a doctor.
“But I was at home in my office on my spin bike and I was able to pivot and take the call,” McGhee told Global News.
She said when she answered the phone, she apologized for forgetting the appointment and explained how she was in the middle of a workout.
“The doctor said if you are not in a private place or covered up, I cannot speak to you,” McGhee added. “I said, ‘No, I’m at home, I’m in a private place and I am covered up’.”
She said the doctor insisted she needed to cover up and she explained she was in a sports bra.
“That’s when he proceeded to tell me I was not covered up enough and then asked me if I would go out in public dressed the way that I was or if I would go to another medical appointment dressed the way that I was.”
She said she assured him she would and from there, McGhee said he told her she was too exposed and he could not speak to someone dressed that way.
“I said, as a woman, it’s my right to dress however I want and maybe I shouldn’t be speaking to someone who pushes those values or concerns on a patient when they are seeking medical advice and that’s when he hung up on me while I was still speaking,” she added.
McGhee said after the call she told her husband what happened and that the whole experience upset her.
She said she decided to post about her experience on social media, particularly after she saw what the doctor posted in the app about the appointment.
In the TELUS Health app, patients have access to notes taken by the doctors about their appointment. It said “the patient was too exposed, her chest was fully exposed, I told her to cover up, I cannot speak to someone wearing a sports bra and I did get angry with him,” McGhee explained.
“You’re expecting to be seen by someone without judgment and that’s what I was expecting on this call. Someone could be from any background or any religion but as a medical professional you have to leave that and accept people how they are.”
Since sharing her experience on Instagram, McGhee said she has received a lot of messages of support from people.
She did contact TELUS Health and submitted a formal complaint to them via email on Sunday.
She also plans to file a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia but needs to print a paper form and submit via traditional mail.
Global News reached the doctor via phone but he declined to comment.
In a statement, TELUS Health said “we are aware of the situation and take it seriously. We’re conducting a full investigation. The well-being of our patients is our top priority.”
McGhee said she feels relief about that.
“I’ve felt dismissed before by medical professionals and over the years I’ve kind of learned to find my voice and stand up for myself and be my own advocate,” she said.
“And that’s kind of really what the situation was, was just advocating for myself and I shouldn’t be talked to like that and I shouldn’t be discriminated against for the way that I look.”
Now McGhee will have to wait another week for an appointment but given the ordeal, she’s definitely weighing her options.
“I’ve used this platform so many times but it kind of takes all of those good experiences and washes them away,” she said.