Carla Lamb, who badly suffers from anorexia-bulimia, and weighs only 70-something pounds, was told by her nurse at a Clarenville, Newfoundland hospital to “eat some supper.”
Lamb was reportedly at Cross Memorial Hospital after a relapse of her illness, and checked herself into the ER for fear she might harm herself. In a CBC report, Lamb said,
“I was in a lot of pain, physically and mentally. I was ready to start cutting myself and needed to speak to somebody … and I needed to know that I was safe. I didn’t feel safe.”
This is a woman who has been in and out of hospitals and rehab centres for over ten years. She was seriously afraid of what she might do to herself. She was in desperate need of someone to help her. Instead, not only was she turned away, but she her all-encompassing, deathly disease, was essentially scoffed at as something that could be fixed by just a few hamburgers.
When she arrived at the hospital, a nurse said that they were very busy and there would be a long wait. After already having explained her illness, a nurse told her to “get some supper and come back.”
President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Psychology Dayle Denney said that Carla Lamb’s frustration and mistreatment is “evidence of the challenge Newfoundlanders and Labradorians face in accessing psychological care.”
Eastern Health has already apologized on behalf of the hospital’s obviously dismissive and inappropriate actions, but that is not enough. Mental health issues need to be taken seriously in this country – especially in rural areas. Patients who arrive at the ER for fear of self-harm need to be taken seriously, not dismissed and trivialized. “Urgency” can not be saved only for broken bones.