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UPDATE: Denied access: Man asked to leave hospital despite face shield

Gordon Boyd said he was told he couldn't enter Thunder Bay Regional without a cloth or paper face covering.
Gordon Boyd
Gordon Boyd on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, says he was told this face shield was not acceptable as a face covering at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – Gordon Boyd has a blood disorder that can be life and death if not treated.

He’s got an artificial hip that’s caused him troubles and needs to be dealt with by a health-care professional.

He also can’t wear a cloth face mask, which he says causes him to sweat profusely, leaving his clothes drenched in a matter of minutes.

As a compromise, Boyd said he chose to wear a plastic, professional grade, face shield to an appointment at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

Twice, however, security denied him access to the facility, forcing him to cancel his visits, adding both times security indicated by raising their arms across their chests they would physically remove Boyd if he chose not to leave on his own terms.

Boyd is hoping the hospital will reconsider its stance.

“I’m definitely denied access to (treatment), there’s no ifs, ands or buts,” Boyd said on Thursday, a week after he sent a letter to the editor to the city’s daily newspaper, going public with his fight with the hospital and its security staff.

“The problem with me having to go to the lab or the hospital weekly, is a blood problem. When I go there, it’s an emergency situation. My doctor seldom even knows I’m going, it’s that close.”

The nature of his treatment means Boyd will have to spend upward of 20 hours in the hospital, and to meet their requirements, would have to do so with a paper or cloth face covering on.

“So how am I going to make out? I’m not,” Boyd said.

Last month, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit issued a mask requirement for communities in its catchment area, but exempted anyone with medical reasons for not wearing one.

According to the hospital’s website, masks, which refers to all face coverings, are mandatory inside Thunder Bay Regional, with the caveat that those who refuse to wear a mask and do not require urgent care may be denied entrance.

Those unable to wear a mask for health reasons are asked to advise entrance screening staff members, who are supposed to provide options.

The exact definition of what constitutes a mask or face covering is not listed.

Boyd said two of his doctors have offered to write a letter exempting him, adding he can’t rely on invitation-only appointments, given the nature of his health concerns.

“I don’t think I’m being absurd,” he said. “I don’t think that I’m being hard to get along with. I just need to get in there. I’m not causing any problems. I don’t visit anybody in the hospital, because I don’t know anyone in the hospital ... I’m not going in there to wander around.”

Thunder Bay Reginal responded late Thursday afternoon, saying alternatives to face masks, including face shields, may be permitted, depending on circumstances. But, in an emailed statement, the hospital said face shields do not filter respiratory droplets, which might escape the shield and be inhaled by someone nearby, and therefore are not a substitute for a properly fitted cloth mask. They recommend wearing a mask as well as a face shield, under guidelines provided by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. 

"In the current environment, extra precautions are taken to keep everyone safe, including mandatory use of masks. We recognize that there are several medical conditions that prevent people from safely wearing masks. In such cases, certain services may be delayed if they are not immediately medically necessary. At the same time, we collaborate with patients and their care partners to address individual situations and make improvements," the statement reads. 

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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