Medicine Hat News

Doc says lying about COVID symptoms puts everyone at risk

- GILLIAN SLADE gslade@medicineha­tnews.com Twitter: MHNGillian­Slade

A local physician says he’s hearing of people lying about COVID symptoms.

Dr. Gerry Prince says he has been made aware of a woman who some months ago when she was to deliver a baby denied having any COVID symptoms when she was screened at the hospital.

“She lied about her symptoms because she was afraid her husband (who was being seen at the cancer clinic in Calgary) might not be able to go for his treatments,” said Prince.

Recently, he says, there was another incident.

“We had a patient show up at the maternity clinic in the hospital last week that had COVID symptoms, but lied to the hospital screening because she wanted to be seen,” said Prince. “When confronted and requested that she get tested, she refused.”

Prince emphasizes the unnecessar­y risk this puts on staff and other patients, not to mention additional cost.

“... we had to deep clean and sterilize all the rooms she was in, holding up the rest of the clinic. We also had to discard all the teaching supplies, forms, papers, etc. from our screening room — a needless waste of time, effort and materials, in addition to the obvious risk,” said Prince.

Alberta Health Services is not able to say how prevalent this is across the province.

“”It’s not something we track, but we do know it is happening,” said Kerry Williamson, AHS communicat­ions.

He says AHS understand­s it is difficult not to be able to see or accompany a loved one in hospital, but if you come in when you’re sick, even with mild symptoms, it puts others at risk. It only takes one person to start an outbreak.

Prince speculates on the possible reasons for people not disclosing symptoms and thinks it could be fear that they won’t be given care in hospital or not be allowed to have a support person with them.

Sometimes it’s denial because they say they do not believe in COVID, said

Prince. If they don’t believe in COVID they think they do not have to play by the rules. Others seem to rationaliz­e their decisions. They feel they are not terribly ill and that no harm will be done and they will avoid an inconvenie­nce.

AHS says people do not have to fear that they or a loved one will not be treated if they admit to having symptoms.

“No patient will be denied health services in AHS because they are COVID-19positive or have symptoms. We strongly encourage people to talk to their family physician, call Health Link (811), or discuss their symptoms and status with site screeners,” said Williamson.

Another local physician is noticing resistance. There was a patient with a sore throat, nasal discharge and a mild cough. The patient refused to be swabbed for a COVID test. They insisted they simply had a cold.

There are people who have been tested for COVID a number of times in the last nine months and the result was always negative. In the process though they’d been required to isolate while waiting for the test and until getting the results.

Williamson says that every person entering an AHS facility is screened for symptoms of COVID. This includes employees, patients, support persons and even vendors.

“Screening is only effective if the person answers honestly, openly and to the best of their ability,” said Williamson.

Before entering a site, follow the instructio­ns on ahs. ca/visitation. If you are awaiting your COVID-19 test results, visit ahs.ca/results for more informatio­n.

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