A tragic story came from BC this week about a elderly Sikh patient's beard being shaven off during his stay at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminister.
B.C.'s Fraser Health Authority has apologized for shaving a 70-year-old man's beard -- something forbidden by his Sikh religion. It happened during an overnight shift at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. The Health Authority says the nurse, who recently came from out of province, feels terrible about the incident. "We are very sorry on behalf of Royal Columbian Hospital that this happened," says spokesperson Mariam Stewart. "There have been numerous memos going out to other intensive care units and hospitals in Fraser Health of the fact that, with the beard, the beard is very, very important." (Link)The worst part is that the Sikh was in hospital after being shot during an earlier robbery at at a Surrey gas station. The victim's son in law says the senior has been victimized twice by what the hospital has done.
"My father in law -- he's been killed twice," says Surjit Singh Virk. "To me, his pride, his honour, his belief -- everything taken away from him. It's very shocking."The family says they will file a complaint against the hospital and are asking the Health Authority to implement a policy so something like this won't happen again.
I know that the William Osler Health Centre and specifically Brampton Civic Hospital has put a lot of effort into educating their hospital staff to the diversity of their patients. I also know their new mantra isn't the Golden Rule but the Platinum Rule, do unto others as they would want done to them. Sikhs in Illinois helped the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council prepare a document entitled "Guidelines For Health Care Providers Interacting With Patients Of The Sikh Religion and Their Families". This is a great document that can be used as a template for providing something for your local hospital. Sikh-Canadians have donated millions of dollars to hospital foundations across the country. With these efforts, Sikhs also need to engage their local hospitals to ensure these kind of tragedies are prevented.