HSC patient alleges security staff assaulted him
A Winnipeg man who was injured in an auto collision and rushed to Health Sciences Centre claims he was more severely injured by his altercation with hospital security.
Bobby Thomas said he got a concussion, broken cheek bone, cuts and bruises, and prolonged numbness around his mouth after he was allegedly assaulted by security guards as he tried to leave the hospital because he hadn’t received treatment for hours.
“I went there for whiplash and walked out with a concussion and my face messed up,” Thomas, 39, said on Friday. “I can’t chew hard food and I can’t sip with a straw. It’s like a dentist has frozen me and it’s not going away. My lip is frozen”
“Now HSC is trying to set up a time to apologize to me and the health minister has called me.”
Thomas wore a neck brace as he rode to HSC in the ambulance. He had been a passenger in a vehicle that had collided with another vehicle at Salter Street and William Avenue while he was on his way to work on the morning of Jan. 18.
Thomas said he was in excruciating pain and was unable to move his neck, but he was left for hours lying on a stretcher in the emergency department without any pain medication.
“I told them I would have a problem with a pill unless it was crushed and a nurse said they would crush it and put it into apple sauce. I never got anything.”
Thomas said he decided about eight hours later to seek treatment somewhere else. A nurse advised him not to leave.
He said he believed she was being condescending toward him so he began recording the conversation on his phone.
He alleged that’s when a security guard came over and told him he couldn’t record the conversation.
Other security guards followed him as he went to the exit door, he said.
Thomas said he planned to wait for a relative to pick him up, but the security guards told him he had to leave. When he again pulled out his phone to record the interaction, he alleged that’s when a guard pushed him, causing him to hit the door with his head.
Thomas said they went outside and a guard took a swing at him. He said when he swung back, a handful of guards jumped on top of him, he was punched in the face, and his head was forced down to the concrete sidewalk.
He said police arrived and he was handcuffed until he told them what happened. He said that’s when a worker from the hospital’s imaging department came up and said she was there to take Thomas to get a CT scan.
Thomas received two scans, one for his original injury, and the other for his head which showed he had suffered a concussion.
Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen confirmed officers are investigating the matter.
“A report has been filed with us involving the interaction between a male and HSC security,” Michalyshen said.
“At this point, no one has been charged and the investigation is ongoing.”
Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara called Thomas to apologize.
“I assured him that we are taking this situation very seriously, as I know it is very distressing for him and his family,” Asagwara said in a statement.
“I informed Mr. Thomas that it is top priority for our government that patients and visitors experience a safe and respectful environment when seeking medical attention.”
Asagwara said both police and the hospital are investigating the alleged assault.
“I also reiterated that my door is always open and welcomed him to contact me at any time.”
Thomas said he is still talking to police investigators about what happened and he plans to sue the hospital.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press.
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