HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s premier says a hospital’s decision to turn away a young sexual assault victim was unacceptable, and Stephen McNeil is now calling on the province’s Health Department to determine who was responsible.
Responding to questions Friday in the provincial legislature, the Liberal premier said staff at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro were wrong to simply hand pamphlets to the woman and turn her out into the street.
“This is completely unacceptable — Nova Scotians looking for health care and being put on the street with pamphlets,” he told the legislature.
“The trauma that was inflicted on this Nova Scotian should have been treated with the care that it deserved.”
Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Karla MacFarlane asked the premier to explain why the hospital, located in Nova Scotia’s third-largest community, isn’t part of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, which offers sexual assault support services.
“She was not examined, she was not counselled and she was not cared for,” MacFarlane told the legislature.
“On what could have been the worst night of this woman’s life, she turned to the health-care system for help, and the system failed her.”
McNeil said the SANE program is expanding and he agreed the Truro hospital should have had trained staff available.
“That service should be provided in Truro at that hospital,” the premier said.
The 22-year-old woman, whose story was reported by the Truro News on Aug. 29, said she was not offered access to either a doctor or a nurse after arriving at the hospital’s emergency department to report she had been raped.
“I just felt so lost,” the woman told the newspaper. “It just felt like I wasn’t their problem to deal with.”
Her mother eventually took her to a hospital an hour’s drive away in Antigonish, N.S., where she was examined by a nurse with the SANE program.
Last week, Health Minister Randy Delorey would not commit to expanding the service to Truro when asked about the case. He said he wanted to wait for the results of an internal investigation.