Protest Demanding Patient Release Triggers Lockdown at Legacy Salmon Creek
The protesters, some of whom were armed, claimed the patient was being held against her will because she refused to submit a COVID-19 test.
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center went into lockdown Friday night after protesters gathered outside the facility to demand the release of a patient.
A woman called 911 around 4:40 p.m. Friday to report that her mother, who had been admitted the previous day for medical treatment, was being held against her will, reports KATU 2. The caller said she had medical power of attorney over her mother and was not being allowed to see her.
According to a release from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, the patient had refused to submit a COVID-19 test upon arrival to the hospital and was subsequently placed in a 24-hour quarantine while receiving treatment. Hospital personnel said the daughter refused to wear a mask inside the hospital and was denied access to see her mother in quarantine.
A deputy arrived and said he spoke with the patient who he determined, based on basic questioning, was able to make her own decisions. He said the woman stated she wanted to remain in the hospital for treatment, according to The Reflector. In the meantime, allegedly at the request of the patient’s daughter, a friend live-streamed an online request for “all hands on deck” to come to the hospital and demand the woman’s release.
Fifteen to 20 protesters subsequently arrived at the hospital demanding her release. The group gathered in and outside the sheltered area at the entrance to the emergency department. The live stream attracted thousands of views after it was posted on the YouTube channel of Ammon Bundy, one of the men who led the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016.
Some of the demonstrators identified themselves as members of People’s Rights, a group most recently recognized for its anti-mask and anti-vaccine activism and with which Bundy is closely associated.
Bundy also made headlines this past October when he was turned away at his son’s high school football game for refusing to wear a mask and was subsequently asked to leave the school grounds after attempting to watch the game from the parking lot. When Bundy continued to refuse to wear a mask or leave school grounds, the principal and athletic director requested he be arrested for trespassing. Officers refused to arrest Bundy or remove him from the property because he “wasn’t out of control and didn’t appear to be a threat to anybody.”
After protesters arrived at the hospital Friday, Legacy security personnel requested more assistance from the Sheriff’s Office and the hospital went into lockdown as the crowd began shouting and making demands. In all, 22 deputies arrived on the scene to secure all entrances to the building.
“The main focus of law enforcement was to prevent an onrush of persons entering the hospital and to ensure the safety of patients and staff,” the Sheriff’s Office statement said. Several of the protesters had open-carry firearms and gas masks in hand, the statement continued.
According to the release, at one point during the confrontation, several protesters attempted to force their way into the hospital when the doors were opened to admit an unrelated person seeking medical attention. The individuals were pushed back by deputies and an unidentified male who tried to force the doors open was pepper-sprayed.
The Sheriff’s Office said the patient eventually requested to be released at 8 p.m. She was reportedly released 45 minutes later and the crowd disbanded. No arrests were made.
The hospital remained under partial lockdown Saturday but there were no additional issues. By Sunday morning, the hospital was back to normal operations.