A woman from Canada thought she was going to fly to New York City and then enjoy a trip on a cruise, but that all came to a quick halt when she was denied entry into the United States. She says she was not allowed in the U.S. because she was hospitalized for clinical depression, and questions remain as to how the medical records about her condition became available as they are supposed to be confidential.
Ellen Richardson, who is paraplegic, was told by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent she would have to get “medical clearance’’ and be examined by one of only three doctors in Toronto whose assessments are accepted by Homeland Security, according to the Toronto Star.
“I was turned away, I was told, because I had a hospitalization in the summer of 2012 for clinical depression,” Richardson said.
The agent cited the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212, which denies entry to people who have had a physical or mental disorder that may pose a “threat to the property, safety or welfare’’ of themselves or others.
Before being hospitalized in 2012, Richardson had attempted suicide in 2001, but medications have helped her through the years and she’s been on three cruises since 2001, traveling through the United States, and hasn’t had any previous problems with U.S. authorities.
Richardson’s lawyer has reached out to Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews.
“The incident in 2012 was hospitalization for depression,” attorney David McGhee said. “Police were not involved. I’ve asked Deb Matthews to tell me if she’s aware of any provincial or federal authority to allow U.S. authorities to have access to our medical records. Medical records are supposed to be strictly confidential.”
The Telegraph reports that U.S. authorities do not officially have access to medical records for Ontario residents traveling to the U.S., the province’s health ministry confirmed. U.S. officials reportedly declined to comment, saying that the department is prohibited from discussing specific cases.
To make matters worse, Richardson paid $6,000 for the trip and so far she’s having trouble getting any of that money refunded.