25 Fevrier 2016
To whom it may concern
I have been an HIV patient at Ottawa hospital for 12 years, and have had to travel back and
forth by bus for appointments.
I am a long time survivor of HIV and have had many health care and hospital visits over that
time. For many years I have complained about my mental health and have had a very hard time
adhering to any help or even having the will to get help.
Because of the distance I have to travel to get health care in Ottawa, it has been an issue for
The reason I don’t use Kingston services is that I had a few events that have happened at the
hospital where I was traumatised which has since increased my PTSD/anxiety.
Since I have had a hard time getting the help I need, I have had to isolate myself even more.
I started falling off the wagon around 2010.
On April 29, 2014 I visited my specialist Dr Paul Beliveau (since retired) in Kingston for a regular
visits related to another health issue and I had a hard time waiting in the waiting room because
of my anxiety.
When I spoke with Dr Beliveau, I told him about having anxiety all the time and that my HIV
care was at “0”.
He offered me help by referring me to the Hotel Dieu HIV clinic, Psychiatrist and to see a social
I accepted the help.
My appointment with Christine Varey (Hiv Clinic Social Worker) was on May 5, 2014 which went
totally wrong.
I went to the receptionist and provided my name and confirmed my appointment. In that
discussion I mentioned to the receptionist that I had looked on the internet to investigate more
information about the clinic and it’s services. I told her I couldn’t find anything. She looked at
me as though she were stunned, in disbelief of me saying that. I found her response odd.
The receptionist had asked me if she could obtain a medical record release for my previous
records at the Ottawa Hospital. I understand this may be regular practise, but being a new
potential patient I explained that I was not ready to sign over the release until I got to know the
clinic better or if I decided to remain as a patient there. She did not force the matter, and I then
waited for Ms Varey.
Waiting for doctors has often made me nervous while in the waiting room. To make matters
worse, I couldn’t sleep the day before so by the time we sat down, my anxiety was growing. Ms
Varey introduced herself to me and brought me to her office. I noticed right away that her tone
and body language was cold and she looked at me like she was sizing me up which made me
nervous. I got the impression she already knew something about me or was suspecting
something. Looking back, It was obvious from the beginning that she was investigating or
judging me without even talking to me first.
I managed to keep calm and not show any discomfort while she questioned me and looked at
me from my head to my shoes. The look she gave while she scanned my body was that she
couldn’t believe what she saw.
I knew at that time that she was investigating me and that anything I was saying was going to be
considered suspicious behaviour in her eyes.
For example, I told her I was living in a beautiful place and that there were horses. I was just
describing the farm area where I live, but at that moment her eye & body language were
making me feel like I was not allowed to live in this kind of happy environment and that made
me feel like I was a suspect or criminal. In reality I was just making small talk and I was just
fortunate to rent in a nice location where horses can be seen in the surrounding fields.
Another time, I told her that I recently got a driver’s liscence and she replied, “Oh Really,
hmmm,You have a drivers liscence!”. The way she said it made me feel like I was not allowed to
have one, and sounded like she wanted to make me feel bad about it.
I knew at that time that she must be somehow connected to my ODSP file and that she was
profiling me for the interest of social services (ODSP).
I feel that I have been treated differently because I am an ODSP client.
I don’t remember all of the questions Ms Varey asked but I remember my answers.
I remember her asking me about having a partner and at that point I was furious inside (not
outwardly). At that point I started to talk about my dog as if he were my partner because he
was my closest friend.
Yes, I said, I have a partner and he is very intelligent. She replied, “What is his name?”. I replied,
well,let’s call it partner for now. I can tell she did not like that and she replied, “Social services
likes to know the name of your partner!”.
Ms Varey was conducting herself like an ODSP case worker. The line of questioning made it
clear to me that she must have been talking to someone at ODSP to find out more about me
because I was a first time patient, and I believe by that point she had made conclusions about
my authenticity.
I have to say that I was feeling completely frozen by the social worker’s (aka ODSP case
worker’s) behaviour throughout the visit.
Ms Varey then asked me if I had a family doctor and I said No. She didn’t ask me why and I
didn’t mention why, but I found out that she had later requested a family doctor for me without
my consent. I understand this may have been meant to be helpful, however I did not ask nor
consent to being recommended to a family doctor.
She also asked if I would sign a release for the Ottawa Hospital’s medical records. I explained
the same reasoning mentioned to the receptionist, that I wanted to get to know the clinic
better before signing a release.
After answering all of Ms Varey’s questions, and at the end of the interogation, I found the
courage to tell Ms Varey that I had thoughts of suicide and there was no response other than to
ask me if I had taken my appointment with the psychiatrist and I said yes.
To her I looked healthy and well dressed because I had made a sincere effort to come forward
that day. She did not take the time to know that I had been suffering all winter and finally had
enough energy to come in for the visit. I looked too good to be a guy on ODSP. My mental
health was once again put aside for the purpose of an investigation. I was there to meet with a
social worker for encouragement and support, but instead I ended up with a case worker who
placed me under suspicion.
We then proceeded to the reception desk to see if the nurse could draw some blood since I was
extremely worried about my HIV status.
I finally got introduced to a nurse who was replacing the regular nurse. I followed the nurse to
her office and could feel her nervousness that in turn raised my anxiety as she was preparing to
take my blood. Once again I was asked if I would sign a release to have the Ottawa medical
records transfered and once again I provided the same explanation and declined.
For some reason that I cannot recall, I asked her only to do one type of test.
She got uncomfortable with this and needed to go and speak with someone at the front desk.
Before she left the room she asked me to sit outside the room.
Obviously she was worried about me being left alone in the room.
I then realised that she had been told about my suicidal thoughts and that is why she was
nervous all along.
My anxiety raised and was extreme . I could not handle the situation anymore.
Fear got into me and I needed to get out as quickly as possible.
I was now completely panicking. I left the clinic without completing the blood test, crying like a
baby, and felt like the entire visit was a huge failure.
I came to the clinic in a crisis and left the clinic much worse…anxious, depressed, alone,
confused, made to feel like a criminal, etc.
I have been resisting to go to the Kingston hospitals for years.
One of the reasons why I decided to go ahead with this Kingston visit was because I felt I had,
and still have, no choice since I could no longer travel to Toronto or Ottawa for my healthcare
owing to my anxiety and mental health issues.
I arrived home very sick after that visit and I knew I was falling into another nervous break
down. I was amazed, to my despair, that after declaring my issues and leaving the clinic in such
a state that the clinic made no effort to reestablish contact to see if I was OK.
On May 14 2014 I received a phone call from ODSP, they had questions about my living status.
Threatening me aggressively, intimidating me and harrassing me. My home safty was now in
Jeopardy. This still goes on to this day.
After receiving that call from ODSP I was completely destroyed knowing that the clinic’s staff
were involved.
I believe it was a week or so after the ODSP call that I knew I was no longer going to be able to
follow my health care at the Kingston hiv clinic after being treated like a criminal.
I called the receptionist to let her know that their social worker had violated my privacy and my
character by calling ODSP.
At first, the receptionist did not seem to want to remember me. How can she have forgotten a
new patient with a french name that had left the clinic in a crisis only a week and a half before.
This got me even more suspicious.
She asked me if I wanted to speak with the nurse or the social worker and I replied, “No! It is
you I want to talk too.”.
I then proceeded to tell her about the soial worker who must have called ODSP on me and to
my surprise she asked me if I had any proof. I told her no I don’t, but I thought to myself that
there were enough circumstances that I wasn’t even able to express to her at the time.
I asked her to cancel my appointment with Dr Wobeser and that I was going to write a letter to
the Doctor. I ended the conversation with a Good Bye.
When I started telling the receptionist about the social worker my voice drastically changed to
show that I was having an anxiey attack. I barely was capable of speaking and I was breaking
My mental health has been more in jeopardy since that visit. My depression, anxiety, fears, and
the will to maintain my health care has been incredibly challenged. I ended up not going to my
Psychiatry appointment and I have been living in limbo ever since. I feel as though I have been
assaulted and how would anyone expect me to go back to seek help anywhere again especially
at that clinic.
The reason why it took me almost 2 years to provide this feedback is because I was dealing with
my nervous breakdown. Intimidation is one of my triggers to my conditions which I have been
trying to have diagnosed for years. My self-esteem was very low before the visit, you can
imagine where it is now.
I would like a response to this feedback.