JACKSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey woman says a trip to the emergency room was made more traumatic when her service dog was evicted from the hospital.
She said it happened when she needed the dog the most — after having a seizure, CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reports.
Nicole Sorchinski has a special bond with her service dog, “Nala.”
Three years ago, Sorchinski suffered a traumatic brain injury, along with PTSD, in a car crash, resulting in seizures she experiences to this day.
The 27-year-old said Nala has been an indispensable part of her life, detecting seizures just before they happen.
“She saved my life on three different occasions,” Sorchinski said.
Last Saturday, Sorchinski was taken by ambulance to Ocean Medical Center in Brick after suffering another seizure. Nala sat faithfully by her side.
But when she got to the hospital, she said she was told something shocking.
“You can’t have the dog in here. She’s not welcome,” Sorchinski said.
She said Nala was evicted from the emergency room and was told by a female staffer that Animal Control would be called to come take Nala away unless Sorchinski could find someone to pick up the dog in 15 minutes.
All this happened, she said, despite the fact that Nala was wearing her official service dog jacket. Sorchinski added she had all the right documents with her.
“I offered to show her the credentials. She just didn’t want to have anything to do with it. She just kept saying it was hospital policy,” Sorchinski said.
Sorchinski said she was so traumatized, she left the hospital without treatment.
Experts CBS2’s Rapoport spoke to said under the Americans With Disabilities Act, service animals like Nala are generally allowed to go anywhere the public can go, including hospitals and emergency rooms.
Hackensack Meridian Health, which runs Ocean Medical Center, said in a statement it was “deeply sorry” for Sorchinski’s experience, and added, “We are currently reviewing the situation to make certain protocols properly protect our patients and their service animals.”
Too little, too late. Sorchinski said that the hospital should have known better.
“The apology means nothing to me because it was wrong. It’s not right,” Sorchinski said.
Sorchinski said she hopes her story will help prevent something like this from happening to anyone dependent on a service dog, ever gain.