Disability advocates warned B.C. health officials for weeks about COVID-19 hospital restrictions

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More than a month before Ariis Knight died alone in hospital, disability advocates had been sounding the alarm about the need for people with disabilities to have access to family or support staff despite COVID-19 hospital restrictions.

“This case was 100 per cent predictable, 100 per cent preventable,” said Tim Louis, a member of the advocacy group and long-time disability activist.

“We put them on notice, the ball was in their court,” he added.

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Global News has obtained e-mails between the working group and senior officials from B.C.’s Ministry of Health that show the back-and-forth correspondence spanning a number of weeks.

Louis described the correspondence as “disappointing,” saying the government response was to “defer to others with no commitment to follow up themselves.”

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Ariis Knight was non-verbal and lived with cerebral palsy. The only way the 40-year-old could communicate was through eye movements and facial expressions. It was a subtle language that family and support staff say took years to learn.

Knight was admitted to Peach Arch Hospital on April 15 due to vomiting, fever and congestion but staff didn’t believe she had COVID-19.

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