St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne has apologised after a young indigenous woman claimed she was “dragged out” of the emergency ward and onto the street.
Khaliyha McKellar, 18, went to the emergency department on May 31 suffering from a drug overdose and claimed staff “dragged her outside” and left her on the pavement in front of the hospital vomiting and unable to stand.
“I could have died,” Ms McKellar told 7News on Sunday night.
“I woke up crying and then they just dragged me outside and I couldn’t walk,” she said.
The incident took place last weekend and was witnessed by Audrey Kearns, a patient at the time, who said she was “assaulted” by security guards for filming and attempting to help Ms McKellar.
“A young Indigenous woman vomited and collapsed beside a concrete ledge and passed out on the ground and was completely unresponsive.
“Myself and two other patients as well as two other visitors came to her aid as she had been thrown out of the emergency department and deemed ‘treated’,” Ms Kearns wrote on Facebook along with an image of Ms McKellar on the ground under a blanket and videos of the incident.
“Both myself and my roommate at the hospital had words with security pleading that she be taken back inside as she was laying there with no blanket, no shoes and was possibly at risk of choking on her own vomit.
“We were simply told it wasn’t their problem and she had been seen by a medical professional,” she continued.
Ms Kearns said she sat with Ms McKellar for about three hours before hospital staff allowed the indigenous girl back inside, but she believes it was only because staff noticed she was documenting the incident on her phone.
“Once I began filming three security guards immediately appeared along with an ER nurse. I was assaulted by one of the security guards (he hit my arm suddenly while trying to grab my phone on the second attempt and it’s bruised). He also stamped my foot (I was in slippers and have cuts),” Ms Kearns wrote along with photos of her injuries.
Brendan Nottle from the Salvation Army told 7News the incident is a “wakeup call”.
“Not just for the health sector but for all of us to say are there any underlying attitudes that we need to address.
“This is absolutely not the St Vincent’s Hospital that we know,” he added.
Ms Kearns recounted the evening to 7News on Sunday night, after describing it as a “disgusting” neglect.
“What happened here was by far the most disgusting thing that’s ever been done to me by ‘health professionals’ but it’s daily life for indigenous peoples and those most vulnerable,” she ended her Facebook post.
Ms McKellar responded to Ms Kearns about the incident describing her as “lovely” for waiting with her but called the treatment from hospital “normal”.
“I couldn’t even walk or anything and every time I opened my eyes I was crying,” Ms McKellar wrote.
“The hospital can drag me out while I’m spewing and collapsing, never mind my heart stopping that day but oh well, I guess that’s normal,” she added.
St Vincent’s CEO Angela Nolan apologised on Sunday, issuing a public statement.
“I’m deeply concerned about the contents of this video and the incident and what’s occurred here,” Ms Nolan said.
“We apologise to the patients in these videos. This is not who we are and not what we are about at St Vincent’s and we are investigating the matter.”
“I don’t accept their apology at all,” Ms McKellar told 7News.
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