Yet a doctor in Winnipeg has claimed she doesn’t know how to treat lesbians.
Andrea Markowski said she and her partner of 18 years made an appointment with Dr. Kamelia Elias after they heard she was accepting new patients. She said Elias started to take the couple’s medical history and asked how long the women had been together — at which point, the doctor told them she’s never treated lesbians before.
Markowski said she asked Elias whether treating a same-sex couple was a problem for her, and alleges Elias said yes.
Elias told the Free Press she has no experience treating lesbians and gays who sometimes have “sexual problems” and other diseases. Elias practised medicine in Egypt before spending four years in Steinbach and said she’s never treated gays or lesbians in her two decades as a physician.
“They get a lot of diseases and infections,” Elias said during a phone interview. “I didn’t refuse to treat them, I said it’s better to find someone who has experience and will take this type of patients. There (are) some doctors who can treat them.”
“This type of patients” makes it sound like this doctor thinks they’re a different species all together with different organs or alienesque vital signs or something.
Two reasons are given for the weird doctor reaction, religion and culture. The doctor in question was from the Middle East originally and apparently it’s not unusual for physicians from other countries to avoid doing certain procedures, like pelvic exams. But still.
Manitoba doctors can accept or refuse a patient based on their current patient load, but can’t discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation or anything else enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Dianna Scarth, executive director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, would not confirm a complaint had been filed. But she maintained doctors and other health-care providers can’t refuse to treat people based on their sexual orientation under the human rights code.
Andrea said she and Ginette were upset at Elias’s reaction to their sexual orientation and told Elias that she should pursue further education. The couple received an apologetic phone call from a Lakewood Medical Centre director over the weekend, and said the clinic offered to link them with another physician.
“We just decided we don’t feel comfortable going back there,” Markowski said. “They’ve got a pretty serious problem on their hands with this doctor.”
Maybe the flak resulting from this article will encourage Elias to improve patient relations.