ClarkCo: ‘Anti-vax’ protesters force lockdown at ClarkCo hospital

Clark County

Group demanded the release of a patient, deputies said

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A sense of normalcy resumed at a Clark County hospital Saturday following a demonstration that prompted the facility to go on lock down the previous night.

The County Sheriff’s Office said “anti-vaxx” protesters dispersed from the area after hours of demanding a patient be released from the hospital. No arrests were made but there was a confrontation between the group and law enforcement resulting in one person being pepper sprayed.

Deputies were called to Legacy Salmon Creek at about 6:30 p.m. after a group of 30 to 40 people gathered outside the hospital. Deputies said the group was there to support a person who had a family member being treated at the hospital and they wanted that person released.

The sheriff’s office said the group consisted of “exceptionally unreasonable” people who were “anti-vaxxer, anti-science types” who live-streamed the incident on social media.

A spokesperson at Legacy Salmon Creek told KOIN 6 News around 8:30 p.m. that the hospital was in a so-called “silver lockdown” and no one was being allowed in but people inside were permitted to leave.

Deputies said they protected the hospital and worked to have the patient — a woman — released. No arrests were made and deputies did not resort to any crowd control measures; however, they said a small scuffle broke out when the hospital went into lockdown. The group of people tried to enter the hospital through the emergency room entrance and someone in the crowd used pepper spray.

The patient was eventually released and the crowd dispersed at around 9:15 p.m., deputies said.

The lockdown was expected to be in place until Saturday morning.

Clark County Sheriff’s Office released a statement about the incident Saturday afternoon, which you can read in full below:

**NOTE: Many personal details regarding the individuals involved in this report will not be mentioned, due to laws governing medical privacy. 

On 1/29/2021 at 1648 hours a caller to 911 requested the presence of a deputy at Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital.  The caller reported that her mother, who had been admitted the prior day for medical reasons, was now being held against her will at the hospital.  The caller stated that she had a medical Power of Attorney over her mother and was not being allowed in to see her. 

The patient had refused to submit to a COVID test upon admittance to the hospital and had been placed in 24-hour quarantine for protection while receiving medical treatment.  According to hospital personnel, the daughter had refused to wear a mask upon entering the hospital and was refused access to see her mother, who was in quarantine.

Upon arrival, the deputy assigned to the call spoke with the patient, who he determined via some basic questions was able to make her own decisions.  She stated to the deputy that she wished to remain in the hospital in order to receive treatment.  Meanwhile, an estimated 15 to 20 persons began arriving at the hospital’s emergency department at the apparent request of the patient’s daughter, demanding the release of the patient.  A friend of the daughter had streamed a request online for “all hands on deck” to come to the hospital to demand the release of the patient.

Due to the number of persons congregating at the entrance to the hospital’s Emergency Department, Legacy security personnel requested additional CCSO units respond.  Deputies were advised that the hospital was going to go into lockdown as the crowd was shouting and demanding the release of the patient.  The persons congregated in and outside the sheltered portico just outside the entrance to the Emergency Department.

The main focus of the presence of law enforcement was to prevent an onrush of persons entering the hospital and to ensure the safety of the patients and staff at the hospital.

As people began to arrive at the request of the daughter’s friend, deputies noted that several were open-carrying firearms and gas masks.  Additional units were called to the scene in order to protect the other entrances to the hospital.  In total, 22 deputies were listed as on-scene.

At 1955 hours, the on-scene sergeant notified dispatch that the patient had requested to leave the hospital, and that preparations were being made to discharge the patient.

At one point during the confrontation, a number of persons affiliated with the daughter attempted to force their way into the hospital when the doors were opened to admit an unrelated person needing medical treatment.  These persons were physically pushed by deputies back out into the portico.  One unidentified male who tried again to force the doors open and assault a deputy during the attempt to enter the hospital was advised to leave or he would be sprayed with pepper spray.  The male refused and was sprayed in the face by the deputy.  No arrests were made. 

At approximately 2040 hours the patient was released from the hospital.  The patient was transported home by family.  The crowd dispersed a short time thereafter.

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