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Patient says Kelowna hospital wrong target for anti-vaccine card wrath

Decision by rally organizers called misguided thinking
A handful of counter-protesters were in attendance, as roughly 1,000 people gathered and protested COVID-19 health measures outside of the hospital on Sept. 1. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

Ken Hetherington shares the same opinion of many in the aftermath of the anti-vaccine card protest held outside Kelowna General Hospital on Wednesday — it was held at an inappropriate location.

The Kelowna resident had a front-row seat to the protest as it unfolded as he was about to leave the hospital after a medical treatment and get picked up by his wife at the front entrance.

As he was getting ready to leave the second floor, he noticed a small group of caretakers huddled around the window facing out on Pandosy Street.

“You couldn’t hear anything because the windows are soundproof but as I went to look out and see what was going on, I noticed one of the caretakers had tears welling up in her eyes,” Hetherington said.

“It seemed like anarchy going on outside and my wife would have been right in the middle of it trying to pick me up.”

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The couple managed to hook up and depart from what was a congested situation around the front entrance, backing up traffic in both directions along Pandosy.

After completing the short drive home, Hetherington said he had time to reflect on the protest experience, saying he felt horrible for the hospital workers who were confronted by the rally participants, the same people dealing with the pressures of caring for what has been escalating numbers of COVID-19 patients in recent weeks at the hospital.

“They have enough on their hands,” Herrington said of the hospital staff. “I felt sympathy for them.

“Everyone has a right to protest and we live in a country that protects that right, thank goodness. But I just think in this case it needed to be done at the correct forum. Perhaps at Stuart Park, or by The Sails, but not at the hospital.”

Hetherington, who is fully vaccinated, said he respects the individual rights of people to not be vaccinated, acknowledging the government is recommending, not mandating, people 12 and older get the COVID shot in the arm.

“If you don’t get vaccinated that is your choice. I respect that. But you also don’t have the choice to endanger someone else,” he said.

He feels that the choice to be unvaccinated also comes with having accountability to others who have been vaccinated, meaning access to services and events may be temporarily curtailed at current COVID exposure rates, something the B.C. business community has called for and the provincial government has been requested to support.

The vaccine card comes into effect with one dose being required for entry into many non-essential businesses including indoor ticketed events, bars and restaurants and fitness centres as of Sept. 13. As of Oct. 24, patrons will be required to be fully vaccinated.

Barry Gerding

About the Author: Barry Gerding

Senior regional reporter for Black Press Media in the Okanagan. I have been a journalist in the B.C. community newspaper field for 37 years...
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