Miller Centre patient denied seeing-eye dog

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Kimberley Robbins, 29, of Caplin Cove, Conception Bay who resides in Torbay, is shown in her hospital room at the Miller Centre Wednesday. On her laptop is a photo of Duke, her two-year-old Siberian Husky guide dog who isn’t permitted to be with her according to Eastern Health policy. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Pictured on Kimberley Robbins’ laptop computer is her Siberian husky, Duke, a handsome dog, for certain.

Robbins has not seen him in more than 100 days since entering the Dr. Leonard A. Miller Centre in St. John’s, where the 29-year-old is being treated for muscle spasms that have become progressively worse over the last seven years — they cause her to fall out of her wheelchair at times.

But Duke is not just a dog she values as a companion — he’s her seeing-eye dog.

Robbins, who was born blind, developed transverse myelitis in 2004.

The neurological disorder caused by an inflammatory process affecting the spinal cord has forced her to use a manual wheelchair in tandem with her guide dog ever since.

An accident in the bathroom this year sent Robbins to the Health Sciences Centre. She was eventually transferred to the Miller Centre for physiotherapy and to try new drug treatments.

Upon being transferred to the Miller Centre, Robbins assumed she would be reunited with Duke.

“When I came here, I gave them a week, and then once I was able to get up and stay out of bed long enough, I asked if he could come here, because he’s supposed to be able to.”

Eventually, Robbins said, she was told it is against Eastern Health’s policy to allow guide dogs to stay at their facilities.

Robbins claims to have since learned there is no policy and said she was told a policy is being worked on.

In addition, Robbins said she has been denied access to a power wheelchair, even though an occupational therapist and sitting specialist both suggested it would be her best option.

“They both agreed that’s what I needed to move on.”

The occupational therapist later expressed concerns about using a power wheelchair alongside a guide dog, according to Robbins, and has kept her from trying it out since then.

She has a manual wheelchair in her room, but said she cannot use it at the moment.

“I can’t even sit in it without tipping over because of spasms.”

Robbins said she has used a power wheelchair in the past, and had no issues.

As a result, Robbins has spent her time at the Miller Centre confined to her bed. She expects to stay at the rehabilitation centre for at least three more months as she considers the possibility of undergoing a surgical procedure in British Columbia or Alberta to treat her spasms.

While it has been a frustrating experience for the Caplin Cove native, she did receive a call from an official with Eastern Health shortly before she spoke to The Telegram Wednesday informing her that the regional health authority is looking into her concerns.

“That’s really good,” she said.

Although Duke is allowed to visit Robbins at the centre, she said it would stress him out too much to see her in her present state.

“He’s usually really hyper and active, and ever since I’ve been in the hospital he’s been at my mom’s laying on the couch. He won’t go for walks, and she’s got to pull him off the couch to go eat or go outside.”

A spokeswoman for Eastern Health confirmed its does not have a formal policy in place for guide dogs. She went on to point out it does have guidelines in place for its pet therapy program.

For that program, the patient is responsible for looking after its animal, and the animal cannot be a threat or nuisance to other patients or staff.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: Miller Centre, Health Sciences Centre

Geographic location: British Columbia, Alberta, Caplin Cove

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Recent comments

  • Trevor King
    February 21, 2012 - 16:26

    I feel bad for this situation. I was at the miller centre for almost two months becaus eof the affects of where I had h1n1. i went to ot and I belive they are doing right , they know whats best... I myself being a paitent of thta great place feel it is no place for a dog,... If the husky does go to the centre than the nurses has got someting else to deal with. I spent two months there and seen what kind of paitents that goes through the palce, no place for a dog with what theree other paitents in the room and there is barely enoug room for four beds now. the dog will have to be fedd takening care of , walked and brought to do his bathroom duties. THOSE GRETA NURSES DONT NEED MORE RESPONSIBILITES AND THE PAITENTS AIT GONNA WANT A DOG IN THE ROODM

    • Jessica Moore
      March 19, 2012 - 12:16

      what hospital would create a room with FOUR beds?? the majority of hospitals allow only two and if you think that it is okay to have 4 patients in the same room but service animals shouldn't be allowed there, then clearly there is something that you are missing. The article isn't just about the dog, they are forcing her to be bed ridden, keep in mind that he is a TRAINED service animal, if they were to give her the right to use her mechanical wheel chair then i'm sure she would gladly take care of her service animal they way she has been for the amount of time that she's had him. why would the nurses ever be responsible for someone elses animal?? Perhaps you should put yourself in her position, obviously you have never had to depend on something so much and to have it taken away for no reason is incredibly heartbreaking.

  • Mardi Hadfield
    December 18, 2011 - 17:30

    I am legally blind and use a power wheelchair to get around. I have also had 2 husky guide dogs work next to my chair.A husky is a good wheelchair guide dog as they have the energy to keep up and work all day guiding a person in a wheelchair. This rehab center is clearly discriminating against Kim.It is inhumane to keep a person a prisoner by not providing the power chair you need and not providing the treatment you need, and also not letting you have access to your guide dog. These people are breaking the law! This is a civil rights violation and needs to brought to court in a law suit. Kim,if you want to move away from there, come the the USA.I live in Tucson Arizona and can help you with housing and help with advocating for your civil rights. You can contact me at the above email address if you want.Very sincerely, Mardi Hadfield

    • Nikki
      July 06, 2012 - 11:23

      Im a firm believer in animal thearapy.without the aid of my 9yr old Akita I wouldn't have made it through a hellish 8 yr illness .his need to see me through I beleive made the journey worth while!thank god for people like you with compassion! Unless you experience the bond of service dogs unfortunately some cannot sempithize!good luck and prayers are with you!

  • HP
    September 26, 2011 - 23:53

    I totally agreee with LW. There are two sides to every story. We are getting only the patients side of it. Guide dogs cannot be refused access anywhere. Although Eastern Health says it does not have a policy pertaining to guide dogs they(guide dogs) have never been refused access to an institution. Ms. Robbins has told her story but what about the story of the people who work with her everyday. They are bound by confidentiality and cannot speak about this. Ms. Robbins says she is confined to a bed. Is this her own choice? Can she be taken out of bed in a manual wheelchair? I know she said she can't push it but she could still sit out in in for meals and such. I would not support Ms. Robbins attempt of going to the media to make things right. This only brings hostiliy! If Ms. Robbins cannot sit up in a manual wheelchair without tipping it over what makes her so sure she is going to be able to sit up in a motorized one? If her spasms are so bad that she can't get out of bed and she can't sit in a wheelchair who is going to look after the needs of the dog? Are staff expected to do this? I think before anyone puts down Eastern Health and it's policy they should be hearing both sides of a story. Not one where the patient thinks they are right!

  • Kimberley Robbins
    September 26, 2011 - 22:37

    DOG LOVER, if you read my comment you would know that I would take him out and take care of him MYSELF. I am ONLY confined to bed right now because I am not getting the wheelchair I need to move around. It is waiting, but the OT refuses to even let me prove to her that I can use it. I have never in my 11 yrs of working with guide dogs needed anyone else to take care of either of them and I don't now (if the OT would let me bring in the right wheelchair and leave the room). Also HUSKIES are bred to pull! DuKE HELPS to pull a manual wheelchair (that is made of titanium and carbon fibre) while I PUSH on the opposite side to follow him. There is NO pulling involved in the wheelchair I need now (a power wheelchair) he would be walking next to it with just enough tension on the harness so it doesn't go slack just like ANY OTHER GUIDE DOG. I rely on my dog to live my life and a LOT of time, effort, training and money went into getting him to this point. The very last thing in this world I would do was put him in any danger. It would be like you gouging your eyes out and hacking off your legs and breaking your arms.

  • NewfieGirl
    September 26, 2011 - 20:20

    Like others have said, there are 2 sides to every story. No one knows all the facts to this story but you are too quick to judge. Like Full Story said, seeing eye dogs are allowed to be in hospitals with their owners because they are certified. So the question to ask is, is this dog certified? For one it is a husky which isn't a typical breed for a seeing eye dog and secondly do this dog have papers stating it is a certified seeing eye dog? My god people, I know our health care system isn't the best one around but do you really think they would prevent someone from having their seeing eye dog with them if it was a certified dog? Maybe the Miller Centre isn't the right place for you to be receiving your treatment. Maybe they do not have the resources to provide the therapy you need with your dog and your wheelchair.

  • J.B.
    September 25, 2011 - 15:51

    Ignorance is the worst disability out there and I wonder if some of the ignorant comments on here are from the staff in the very facility Kim is stuck in. You need to give people a fair chance before "JUDGING" them harshly or at all.

  • jay j
    September 25, 2011 - 06:27

    Eastern Health is so behind the rest of the country in everything! No doubt we all live on a island but you swear the way some people act that we had no contact with the outside world according too the way things are poorly ran here and how they treats others. Eastern Health is the worst by far. Very uncompassionate bunch. I so can't wait for election time. I am so voting NDP like every other person is I have spoken too is but yet The progressive conservatives are leading the poles? We all want change so it will be interesting to see what transpiries on October 11.

    • Kimberley Robbins
      September 25, 2011 - 13:23

      Jay J, I couldn't agree more! My boyfriend had to contact other hospitals and rehabs all over Canada to try to get treatment for me (I've been medically discharged since Sept. 7th and the Dr. didn't even let me know if he spoke to the people he kept putting off etc. yet). All of the other major hospitals and rehabs (we only contacted the major ones) in the country had absolutely no problems with a guide dog staying with me or with getting me the wheelchair I need. Of course I still have to rely on the healthcare system her to refer me out of province either way and the process is going to take at least another three months, but it makes my stomach turn just thinking about having to come back to NL to face the same system again! I have medical issues and I know I will have to. I'm considering moving away from here when I do leave and never coming back because of the treatment and the general negative view that's been shown here. I know I shouldn't let the uneducated comments make me feel that way and I shouldn't let a couple of "bad apples" ruin the rest, but I don't feel comfortable knowing the apparent hatred some people have of guide dogs and having to be around them. Someone mentioned not wanting to be around guide dogs. Well, I'd rather not have to be around people with nasty attitudes like that either, but I'm surrounded with them every day and I can't just make them go away... As for the election I know I wont be out of here by then, but I still hope I can vote!

  • Kimberley M.
    September 24, 2011 - 07:21

    Yup, compassion is not a strong suit with a lot of you people. I was recently hospitalized, and lets just say, a dog in the room with me would have been a comfort compared to the other patients in the facility. They had vistors all hours of the night, laughing, playing cards, etc. Where were the staff with enforcing eastern health visitation and conduct policies at that time?? I know they can only do so much, but I wonder if some of you people complaining about the presence of Kimberley's dog are the same people who live it up in hospitals never evaluating your own behaviour? Get well soon Kimberley and don't let some people bring you down, they are not likely to be saints in their own lives.

  • Kimberley M.
    September 24, 2011 - 07:20

    Yup, compassion is not a strong suit with a lot of you people. I was recently hospitalized, and lets just say, a dog in the room with me would have been a comfort compared to the other patients in the facility. They had vistors all hours of the night, laughing, playing cards, etc. Where were the staff with enforcing eastern health visitation and conduct policies at that time?? I know they can only do so much, but I wonder if some of you people complaining about the presence of Kimberley's dog are the same people who live it up in hospitals never evaluating your own behaviour? Get well soon Kimberley and don't let some people bring you down, they are not likely to be saints in their own lives.

  • mj
    September 24, 2011 - 06:56

    Why not give her the dog full time for a test period? Guide dogs stay at their masters' side at all times; he won't be roaming around hall ways and knocking people over. It would be up to the patient and her family to see to his care, feeding, exercise, and to clean up after him. Lying around couches all day isn't good for a big expensively trained dog. My dogs almost lost it when i was in hospital for 7 days, and i didn't start to heal till I got back home to them. I bet the patient and the dog would perk up once they got together.

  • L.W
    September 23, 2011 - 23:23

    There are two sides to every story. A patient has every right to tell their story while staff members are bounded by the rules of confidentiality. Before you pass judgement consider this!!!

    • Kimberley Robbins
      September 25, 2011 - 13:29

      LW your comment is a complete joke! Not because you said it (and this is totally not directed towards you because what you said makes sense), but because since being in the hospital/rehab this time my private medical records was discusses with two nearly complete strangers that I didn't even give permission to contact at all! I know they were because these people were bragging about it and knew of things that no one besides myself and my mother knew and there is no way they could have guessed at something so specific and got the facts right... I've been giving them every chance I could to follow the LAW and do the right thing for 110 days so far (plus the 38 days I spent at the HSC) and they didn't take any of them. What else was I suppose to do? The only way to have a life right now is to get the equipment I need and to continue to work with my guide dog. If it takes going to the media to do that, then so be it...

  • Joanne
    September 23, 2011 - 20:29

    WOW.......I can't believe some of the comments I am reading. My brother is visually impaired and uses a guide dog. It is the LAW that the dog can accompany him where he goes. In the past 3 years he has been a patient at the HSC and the Carbonear Hospital and there has never been an issue with the dog accompanying my brother....both of these institutions fall under Eastern Health. My parents felt that my brother was not well enough to care for the dog during his stay in Carbonear and we would take him for daily visits. The dog was with my brother around the clock at the HSC and there was no issue. It makes no sense that the Miller Center offers a pet therapy program but now, all of a sudden, there's issues with allergies, behavior, dander etc. Kim, I wish you nothing but the best, and encourage you not to let this matter go. Politicians are out and about these days and I encourage you to contact Charlene Johnson and Jerome Kennedy to see what can be done. Eastern Health has infringed on your rights and if you get no resolve to this issue then I would suggest you contact a good lawyer!! All the best!

  • Anna
    September 23, 2011 - 19:23

    I've known Kim for a long time now and although I live in New Zealand I have always kept up to date in what's going on in her life. Kim is an independent strong woman who's never afraid to try something. She's been through this before. When she first contracted TM the medical people wanted her in a power chair because they didn't think her guide dog could guide her in her manual chair. Kim sure proved them wrong and the strong bond she had with the guide dog she had then was what got her through the learning period. No one should ever feel like they are a prisoner in their own body and to treat Kim like her life is over is doing her a great disservice.

  • Simple Question
    September 23, 2011 - 18:50

    Can anyone guarantee that the other patients or staff, that have allegies, will not be exposed. The other patients have rights too, in this situation their rights should prevail.

  • mary
    September 23, 2011 - 17:58

    "A spokeswoman for Eastern Health confirmed its does not have a formal policy in place for guide dogs. She went on to point out it does have guidelines in place for its pet therapy program. For that program, the patient is responsible for looking after its animal, and the animal cannot be a threat or nuisance to other patients or staff." This is absolutely unbelievable. It is a guide dog, it has been trained to be such. I would take a guide dog over a pet therapy animal any time. This story portrays NL badly and Eastern Health looks even worse.

  • FULL STORY
    September 23, 2011 - 16:43

    Something is missing... I know that certified guide dogs are permitted within hospitals, cause I have a friend who went thru therapy with her dog a few years ago. We are only hearing 1/2 of this story. The full story we will never know cause the other side can not be released or confidentiality is breached and we have seen what happens then. But to me this does not add up.

    • sueqwhite
      October 30, 2011 - 22:06

      If you read Ms. Robbin's blog you'll find a video that she recorded of the facility grounds, and a visual description including the color of the buildings. I don't think a totally blind person can operate a video camera or see her surroundings

  • Kimberley Robbins
    September 23, 2011 - 16:42

    I just have one question for MR who said: "Don't put her above all the other patients." How exactly is confining me to bed for 108 days (as of today), not getting physiotherapy or occupational therapy at a rehab center and not allowing me to have the equipment I need to live my life just because of my disability and no other reason and keeping my highly trained guide dog who is trained to help me do so much from me and telling me that even if I had a wheelchair I could use I will NOT be allowed out of my room "putting me above other patients" who are free to move around as they please, who are not forced to stay in bed, who are getting PT and OT and who get the equipment they need and who do not have their basic rights stripped away?

  • Sherrie
    September 23, 2011 - 16:26

    I think this is a shameful situation..it is bad enough she has to suffer but to not have the dog close is probably causing morestress adn holding back her theraphy..It is also shameful for people to be denied power wheel chairs..my best friend has one..and it is a big help to her.. nothing ever surprises me about Eastern Health..i hope theyd on't start treating her different because of this story..

  • jim
    September 23, 2011 - 15:09

    for kim and others like her ,who need her dog in order to live indepently, let the government build kennels outside each hospital , and hire caretakers to look after them , after all the members can spend the stolen tax payers money on vlt and thier helicopter trips , but heven forbid, they help anybody out,, and a lot of these comments are nothing but the heights of ignorance....................

  • Kathy
    September 23, 2011 - 14:47

    I agree with Rick. Maybe a group of people should gather at the Miller Centre to show support for this lady and her dog and get the media involved. I'm in.

  • allergies
    September 23, 2011 - 14:45

    As has been stated, allergies are an issue, both of fellow patients & staff. Someone said well people are allergic to everything so where do we stop? Really!!!! Is that how you would feel if your child was allergic to peanut butter and another child brought it to school?? Potentially lethal but it should be OK because "where do we stop"?I know that dog allergies are (probably, maybe) not as fatal as peanut butter allergies but I think the group comes before the individual in most public settings. Kim, you may have to leave the facility and be treated as an outpatient (if that is even possible for you) so that you can be with your dog and recover in the way YOU deem best. But I wonder why we are so slow to trust those with training & experience & assume that we know the best...Maybe we do, maybe we don't. Health care professionals are just people after all and everyone makes mistakes but I am inclined to trust that an OT knows best.

    • Kimberley Robbins
      September 26, 2011 - 22:20

      As stated in a previous comment, I have a severe (life threatening) latex allergy. Should I demand that everyone not be allowed to bring their medical equipment (crutches, walkers etc. into the hospital in case I come into contact with it? How about cell phones (yes we are allowed to use them here), hair elastics, shoes with rubber soles? How about pens with latex in the grips? What about certain foods that are known to cause reactions in some people who have latex allergies (banana, pineapple, avocado, chestnut, kiwi fruit, mango, passionfruit, strawberry, and soy). Just because I'm not allowed to have these fruits on my tray should I demand that other trays not have them either because after all they are stored on the same cart... I know that other people have the freedom and the right to choose to use latex containing products even though I could stop breathing (it's happened in the past) or break out in horrible rashes (this happens more often than it should). I also know that it's MY responsibility to manage my allergies. I know to try to avoid products containing latex (even if I can't actually see them). My dog also knows this and will keep me away from some of the items that are more common so I don't have an opportunity to come into contact with them. I do my best to make sure Duke is very well groomed to prevent shedding, to bring a small blanket for him to lay on if we are in a common area and to keep a safe distance from people who have allergies. (A lot of people who are allergic to dogs are actually allergic to their saliva and not fur). Duke is not suppose to be pet or distracted while he is working so there is no reason for anyone to get extremely close to him although when he is relaxing if someone asks I will let them pet him. Do you honestly think I would go through hell on earth for 111 days if I didn't HAVE to be here?! I don't even know what to say to that... The reason I am "so slow to trust" the OT is because she has spent the last 111 days telling me how she has NO EXPERIENCE dealing with blindness or low vision, guide dogs or service dogs, or adding any type of wheelchair or mobility device into the mix. I stopped counting the number of times she explained how she "doesn't have the expertise" to watch me use the wheelchair her and the seating specialist agree I need and see if it is safe or not (the end result is the same no matter if someone uses their eyes or a guide dog's eyes to get there). If I crash into things (I even told her I would start off in the parking lot away from patients even though I have used both kinds of wheelchairs with NO problems in the past) to try to relieve her fears it is obviously unsafe. If I can get around obstacles and not run into things then it is obviously safe. She refuses to even give me the chance! I KNOW BEST because I've had a lifetime of dealing with not seeing and 7 yrs of not walking. I know what both me and my dog are capable of even if we are not given the chance to prove it by an OT who claims to not have the "expertise" (her wording) over and over again. You can believe that the OT knows best if you wish, but I know that in this case she doesn't and I am not about to let this same person (who just happens to have the power to let me live a life or just lay around for another 40-50 yrs and exist and wait to die) make that decision for me without even giving me a chance to show her what I am capable of. ALL I am asking is for her to base her decision on FACT and NOT her prejudice. Does that seem like too much to ask?...

  • AP
    September 23, 2011 - 13:31

    For those who are not aware, Seeing Eye Dogs are more aware and conscientious of what's going on around them humans. These highly trained dogs would not get in your way in the hall or anywhere else for that matter. Its amazing how businesses have signs stating "no dogs allowed" but people believe that because theirs are tiny, in their arms, and perhaps cute, the rules don't apply to them and NO ONE TURNS THEM OUT! Disgusting!! and then we hear about someone like Kimberly who should be reunited with her dog and they are keeping him out. Attention Eastern Health Policy Makers - don't make yourselves look bad again because you've waited way too long to make a decison. To Kimberly - you have my full support. Way to go girl!!

    • Venus
      September 23, 2011 - 16:32

      Seems ironic that the St.John Ambulance has a program (which I heartily support) whereby volunteers bring their dogs in to visit random patients, and yet the patient in this story- who medically relies on her TRAINED guide dog is denied access; and in a private room to boot! Kim, best wishes to you and Duke... My 2 cents? Get a lawyer... Then see how quick eastern health might address this situation.

    • LG
      September 23, 2011 - 17:35

      Personally, I think this is crazy. She is in there to get better, how are they helping her by confining her to a bed? People are going on about allergies? I personally don't understand that? So your telling me bc people in the hospital have allergies she cant have the dog? in that case they wouldnt be allowed to go out out in public to stores, the mall or other places, because there could be someone walking by with an allergy. That is just unreal. What happened to our community? we all use to be friendly and help thy neighbour? this is a young girl who is trained, as well as her dog to get around freely has she has done so the last 11 years... No one can tell her she cant get in a electronic chair bc she is blind, the girl has been doing it for 7 years on her own. Plus people who can see have no idea im sure of the difcultly of being blind, I for one wouldnt know what to do. I give her props for being so brave and strong to learn at such a young age to be independant. You have my full support Kim. and if a petition is undergo, i will gladly sign it.. he is your family, he shouldnt be denied access to help you, especially when its now you need him the most!! Cheers, and all the best. !

  • Mikalah
    September 23, 2011 - 12:53

    I agree with "Blindy", Newfoundlander are the rudest and uneducated people you ever want to meet. This girl is Blind, most of you can see what you are typing, maybe you should "READ" it as well!!!! Get well Kim!!

  • Jean
    September 23, 2011 - 12:51

    Do we have to come out of the woods to shoot rabbits!!!!!! Dear Lord...if this is a certified guide dog, he should have the RIGHT to be there and do his job...the rehabitation may not take as long therefore saving the God Almighty Dollar!! I'm so glad this is an election year, I for one will not vote for people who turn a "blind eye" to the needs of others...As far as allergies are concerned...there are people allergic to everything you can imagine (not he same people, obviously)...so where do we stop!!! Do we have to start living in bubbles???? The dog may be hyper from separation anxiety, and then to be taken away again and again...these dogs adapt and believe it or not, they will not go to the bathroom unless taken outside and told to do so....So, the dog takes care of the patient and a staff member or Volunteer takes the dog out twice a day....saves them a lot of time, not take it up imo... DO THE RIGHT THING NOW, NOT LATER.

  • California Pete from NFLD
    September 23, 2011 - 12:04

    What kind of laws do you have up there A seeing eye dog can go anywhere a human has access to in this contry no matter what others think except for the operating room, it's the law. and obviously there is no compation for the blind up your way. You got a problem in the Province of NL

  • Blindy
    September 23, 2011 - 11:21

    Most of these commentators are some of the most ignorant folks I've ever had the displeasure of reading to myself. Over and over. I sincerely hope that one day you are not blind, have a debilitating disease and are denied the basic rights we all enjoy. She is not being allowed a power wheelchair, because she is blind. Nevermind the fact that she has experience using one WITH her guide dog, Duke. Certainly I may sound biased, I know the girl. But I promise you this, if it were anyone else, I'd post these same thoughts. NOBODY should be denied freedom. Confinement to a bed shouldn't have to be an issue here, if they would just allow her to live as she normally did before, while she rehabilitates herself so she can leave. Get healthy, Kim.

  • Matthew Smith
    September 23, 2011 - 11:03

    I know Kim. The place she is in is a rehab centre, not an intensive care unit. I don't think Kim would object if the reason had to do with another patient being allergic to her dog; it's just because they don't know what to do with a blind patient who is also paralysed. She would not be the first person with a guide dog to use a power chair - in fact, it is the norm when a blind person needs a wheelchair. Guide dog schools only train animals to guide people in power chairs, not manual ones. She needs the chair and the dog to live and independent life.

  • Kimberley Robbins
    September 23, 2011 - 10:28

    I am the person the story is written about. I can not believe how disgusting a lot of these comments are, but I would like to thank everyone else for their support. It is greatly appreciated! I would like to start off by stating a few things that have seemed to confuse the majority of people. Before anyone starts asking how I can read this story or reply to it if I can't see, my computer talks). 1) It is ILLEGAL not to allow a guide dog (seeing-eye dog) into a hospital or rehab facility or any other place the public is allowed. 2) Duke is usually "hyper" and has a lot of energy that he NEEDS for pulling my wheelchair, guiding me, picking up things I have dropped, bringing things to me, helping with doors, helping me move around etc. The point I was trying to make was he always had plenty of energy to do his job (although he is always on his very best behavior because he is highly trained) but since we've been separated he doesn't even want to leave the couch anymore. 3) PET dogs (Duke is not a pet) are allowed to visit all the time. They are not all well behaved and pet dogs will still leave "dander" etc. around yet they are allowed to come in whenever anyone wants to bring them. 4) I am in a PRIVATE room and not even my bathroom is shared with anyone else. Duke would not leave the room or roam the halls or "kick over trays" (obviously a lot of people don't know the slightest thing about guide dogs. 5) If I had a wheelchair I could move to get around I would take care of Duke on my own just as I've taken care of my guide dogs for the past 11 yrs. Instead i m not even given the opportunity to show the OT that I am capable of using a power wheelchair (even though I've used them in the past) because I am blind and they wont let me. 6) How exactly is forcing me to stay in bed for 108 days because I am blind "putting me above all other patients" when the other patients are given the equipment they need to move around freely? As of right now I am told that no matter what wheelchair I have I will NOT be allowed to even go out into the hallway because I can't see even though I have spent my entire life moving around safely (the past 11 yrs with guide dogs and the past 7 yrs with a guide dog and wheelchair). Yet other people who are in their room because of "infection control" have in the past roamed around into other people's rooms and were not kept in their own room because "Eastern Health can't make people stay in their rooms if they don't want to"? Instead of letting me show them that I am perfectly capable of using the wheelchair they are saying I need to get around and letting them base their decision on fact (like they do for every other patient) they are planning on trying to get 29 hrs a day of home care (24 hrs plus an extra person for 5 hrs) that I will only need because they will only get me a wheelchair that I can't even move around a room on my own. I don't think it is too much to ask when all I want is to be able to get out of bed and have the freedom to move around just like the other patients in this building and to have a life to get back to instead of being left to exist until I die... I'm sure anyone here would be outraged if this was happening to them or any of their family members. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask them and I will answer them, just please don't assume things without knowing the facts first...

    • dog lover
      September 23, 2011 - 16:51

      Should your dog be pulling a wheelchair, this does not seem very safe to me. who will take him out, scoop his poop,and feed him if you are confined to a bed and unable to get up?????

    • dog lover
      September 23, 2011 - 16:54

      having a dog pull a wheel chair does not seem appropriate or safe to me.

    • Nicole
      September 24, 2011 - 09:18

      Hi Kimberley, I just wanted to let you know that I am appalled at the way Eastern Health is handling your needs and concerns. For them to deny you access to your guide dog is a gross violation of your rights and I hope they soon see the error in their ways. With any luck the media coverage that your story is getting will help push them to action. Good luck, stay strong and I hope you are reunited with Duke soon. Best wishes to you and your handsome, hardworking dog :)

    • Julian
      September 26, 2011 - 16:01

      Dog Lover - you say having a dog pull a wheelchair does not seem appropriate or safe to you? - well that is why we chose a Siberian Husky. They are bred for pulling! Duke will happily pull when required and other times walk calmly beside Kim's chair. The Husky is a smart, strong breed with fabulous endurance and a calm demeanor. Dogs have been bred to help man for thousands of years. Dogs love to work.

  • Rick
    September 23, 2011 - 09:50

    "Eastern Health confirmed its does not have a formal policy in place for guide dogs". There is no policy and honestly if it were me I would not care. It's a medical condition and the dog is needed. What is wrong with us Newfoundlanders? Are we getting soft? Bring the dog to her and do not take no for an answer. Stand up for ourselves because the spineless politicians sure will not if there is a remote possibility of any repercussions.

  • feelings
    September 23, 2011 - 09:27

    I do not own a pet BUT doesn't anyone have feeling for other people anymore, Why not have someone bring her seeing eye friend {Dog} for supervised visits for a set amount of time per visit So sad people have no compassion for others anymore

  • Kathy
    September 23, 2011 - 09:14

    These dogs are highly trained. In fact, they are professionals in their field and it's not like they would be roaming the halls and barking at people. I can see the argument for allergies, but not "certainly NOT wanting a dog around". His job is to care for the lady and his focus would be solely on her.

  • Donna
    September 23, 2011 - 08:51

    Just say that Eastern Health DID allow the dog to stay with her...........Who would be responsible for taking the dog outside to do its thing??? The staff???? The staff at that facility (or any other medical facility, for that matter) most certainly do not have the time to babysit a dog. They barely have time to tend to the patients!! And if she's confined to bed and cannot sit in her wheelchair for fear of tipping it over, why does she need a seeing-eye dog with her anyways??? I, for one, would not like the idea of sharing a room with a husky!!!

    • Julian
      September 23, 2011 - 10:39

      Well the point of the exercise is for Eastern Health to obey the law and let the guide dog be with the patient and prescribe the right mobility aid for her, then SHE would take the dog outside and be able to get around the centre the same as everyone else. Huskies are well tempered and easygoing, I know I have one myself and regularly share my room and my life with him.

    • Kimberley Robbins
      September 23, 2011 - 11:10

      If the OT would agree to watch me use a power wheelchair to see if it was safe or not like they do for patients who can see then no one would have to even come anywhere near Duke. I am only "confined to bed" because I am not allowed to have the wheelchair I need even though it's waiting for me. The wheelchair that was mentioned is my own that I can't use anymore for obvious reasons, not he perfectly safe option they are saying I need but refuse to let me used based solely on the fact that I can't see. I am perfectly capable of takIng care of Duke on my own if Inwas allowed to use he right wheelchair just as I've take nacre of my guide dogs for the past 11 yrs (7 of which was from wheelchairs). Also by not allowing Duke here Eastern Health is breaking the law by not following the blind persons' rights act.

  • Make Health care An Election Issue
    September 23, 2011 - 08:50

    This unfortunate story is only one of hundreds. The politicians want your vote - make them earn it.

  • axle
    September 23, 2011 - 08:48

    silliest thing i have ever heard

  • G
    September 23, 2011 - 08:43

    Come on people get with it.It's a Dog,so now your'e saying we have to hire another person to take this animal out to do his thing,and clean up after him if he gets sick.What about pet dander,and allergys,that other people may have to suffer through,because there is an animal in the room.Right now he is home with her Mother,where he will get the best care,and will get used to things as they are.She also is in the best place for her,where she can get the best care.Leave things as they are,and keep the poor old Dog home with Mom,so he won't have to be reminded that his master is sick.I think this would be better for all concerned.

    • Helen Hillier
      September 24, 2011 - 08:37

      G I can only say that firstly, you need some courses in comprension because you obviously misunderstood everything that Kimberley wrote. If you were to go in hospital tomorrow, would you be ok with leaving your arms, legs and eyes at home? you clearly have your own hidden disability called ignorance and is clueless to the importance of a service animal. If animals have been allowed in Nursing homes since Chris was a baby, than why not a rehab. For the love of god does anyone realize the fretting that this dog must be going through, now that his purpose of work is gone. Do you think that maybe this dog will need to have some re-training if he is not permitted soon to be with his master. In the words of my grandmother....if you have nothing good to say, than stop wasting oxygen by being an insensitive and uneducated to the needs of others. Also have the guts to state who you are and not hide behind the letter G.

  • HL
    September 23, 2011 - 08:37

    I think that if she wants the dog with her, and they do have a policy on a pet therapy program, then she should get the dog to visit at first to see how he makes out.

    • Kimberley Robbins
      September 23, 2011 - 10:43

      Thank you HL! I'm glad someone seems to understand. It is illegal to refuse a guide dog (seeing-eye dog) entry, but they have anyway. Eastern Health seems to think they are above their own government's law. Duke is very well behaved and has a very high level of training. (He is both a guide dog and a service dog). Easter Health will let very badly behaved pets come in to visit (they are snarling, barking etc. sometimes) but refuses to let a dog that is trained to allow me to be independent in. I'm surprised they let people bring their glasses or prosthetic legs in here sometimes instead of telling people they can't use them...!

  • t
    September 23, 2011 - 08:36

    "Although Duke is allowed to visit Robbins at the centre, she said it would stress him out too much to see her in her present state. “He’s usually really hyper and active............." So the dog is hyper and active, and it's too stressful for the dog to see her like she is now, but she's upset that they won't allow the dog to stay with her full time in a hospital setting. Not trying to be insensitive, but this just doesn't make sense. A hospital setting is no place for a large hyperactive dog, especially if it's going to be upset. And as someone else mentioned, there is also the issue of allergies.

    • Kimberley Robbins
      September 23, 2011 - 10:37

      What I actually said was it would stress him out to have to leave and not work with me. He loves to work (it's what he lives for) and to just bring him here where he thinks we are going to work together again and take him away is not going to help the situation. As far as the "he is usually really hyper and active" comment it was taken out of context. I meant at the moment he spends his days moping around and sleeping on the couch and not wanting to even go for walks or eat when usually he has all of the energy he needs to do the work he does and then some. He is ALWAYS very well behaved (he is highly trained) but he always has the energy needed to work and has a bounce in his step when doing it because it makes him happy!

  • Frustrated
    September 23, 2011 - 08:20

    ....Respect for other patients has to come in theres omewhere, and if it's too stressful for the dog to VISIT and see her in her current state then what's LIVING there going to do ?!? He will have to see her then. I, as a patient at ahospital or faciility, would most certainly NOT want a dog around me. There are lots of mobility issues and speech issues in people at that centre and I don't think it's fair to thrust a dog there.. Some people are allergic & others afraid, and they need to be considered. There's also not enough space for that dog. And why is a guide dog so Hyper???? What will happen if he has a hyper activity in a small place like the Centre? He'll be knocking over table trays and banging into people!!

  • What about
    September 23, 2011 - 07:47

    Where's the concern for other patients and staff that may be allergic to dogs and nothing sheds like a husky.

    • Kimberley Robbins
      September 23, 2011 - 16:35

      As I stated in a previous comment, I am in a private room, so I am not particularly close to anyone. Being that Duke is a guide dog (seeing-eye dog) he is extremely well taken care of because he is out in public. He is groomed daily (by me) and even has his teeth brushed to prevent bad breath! I realize some people have allergies. I have some myself, the worst being a Latex allergy. No matter where I go there is always rubber and I have to avoid it (if I touch it i break out in a rash, and I have also stopped breathing because of latex on several occasions). I know it would be completely unreasonable to expect everyone around me to only use latex-free products. It is my responsibility to keep a safe distance from anything that could potentially contain latex. In the past 11 yrs of working with guide dogs I have never had an issue with setting off anyone's allergies unless that person chose to come up and start petting my dog and got saliva on themselves knowing that they were allergic. (Most of the time saliva is what causes allergic reactions) Also, because Duke is groomed daily he doesn't shed even a tiny fraction as much as you would expect!

  • Peter
    September 23, 2011 - 07:10

    It's absolutely disgusting the way this lady is being treated. Again Eastern Health has dropped the ball, and another patient has to suffer due to this uncaring bunch of petty civil servants. Give the lady what she needs, she is a human and suffering, and the dog and her wheel chair will go farther than any drugs or other care that Eastern Health can give, and far cheaper too.

    • Holly
      September 23, 2011 - 07:54

      I think this is disgusting how this lady is being treated. Does no one understand how much of an effect animals, especially the pets, can have on the health and well being of people with health issues? She would probably be feeling so much better if she could have her best friend-her seeing eye dog-with her. Why is this against regulation? Maybe you'd have a lot more satisfied people in your instituions if you gave a little and started to act like human beings with consideration for the well-being of your patients and residents instead of acting like institutionalized robots.

    • Joe
      September 23, 2011 - 08:18

      I agree with Peter, Time and time again EHA continues to demonstrate it's lack of care about patient care, they only care about image, budget and only react to patient care issues when they become a crisis, It is about time Ms. C got off her high horse and did the real work. If she can't do that then it's time for her to go. But I guess that is what we get when we go to Ont to get CEO's, heaven forbit we hire people from within NL.

    • MR
      September 23, 2011 - 08:48

      As a hospital patient, I would not want a dog nearby. If I am slowly walking the halls or have an allergy, a dog is not the place. I suggest the family bring the dog for a visit to an area that doesn't affect other patients. Don't put her above all the other patients.

    • Francis
      September 23, 2011 - 19:00

      @Joe What in the world does the fact that Vicki Kaminski is from Ontario have to do with anything? I guess you think all Newfoundlanders are perfect. Who's really on the "high horse?"