An elderly Ontario man had to fend for himself in a Toronto hospital emergency room Wednesday after being robbed by another patient.
Toronto resident Avi Levinton told CTV News Toronto that his 68-year-old mother was in severe back pain and was taken to Toronto General Hospital on Elizabeth Street around 9:30 a.m. said.
Levinton said they waited about two hours when he left to make a work call.
“I’m thinking, ‘I left her sitting in the waiting room of a big hospital in Toronto, not on the subway in New York,'” he said in a telephone interview.
Levinton, however, said that while he was away, a stranger approached his mother, reached for the purse on her lap, and stole the purse.
“My mother was alone in the waiting room when a woman came up and took her purse from the one she had on her lap,” he said. “People around her cried out for her help.”
Levinton says that despite her mother’s illness, she went into a corner and was able to track down and confront the culprit who started emptying her purse.
“My mother is not only a transplant patient, but she has very advanced scoliosis, so it is obviously very difficult for her to walk. I was able to stand up and swipe my wallet.
Staff were not available at this point, Levinton said, and instead a fellow patient took action and helped the woman return to her wheelchair.
He said he found it “very strange” when he returned a minute or two after the exchange to find no security guards.
“You would think there would be [a security guard] You can only hear someone sitting behind a wall of glass and speaking through one of the microphone devices,” he said.
Levinton said a security guard appeared about five minutes later and escorted a woman out of the waiting room who tried to steal her mother’s wallet.
When asked for comment, University Health Network, which oversees Toronto General Hospital, told CTV News Toronto that its emergency department is “open to anyone in need and experiencing homelessness.” It is often seen as a resting place for people.”
“This is a very unfortunate event and anyone involved in the incident will be involved in an investigation,” UHN spokeswoman Gillian Howard said in a statement, adding, “Emergency departments are not available to the area. We have an assigned security guard,” he added.
“It is extremely terrifying for the patients involved and I deeply regret that anyone seeking care has gone through such an experience.”
As of Thursday, Levinton’s mother is recovering at home.
He says he doesn’t want to share his story as “another person throwing stones at the system,” but he hopes that meaningful change can be brought about within health care.
“Let’s figure out how to run these places more efficiently and safely. That’s all.”