An Ottawa man is calling on the government to make COVID-19 testing kits more accessible, after he was unable to see his dying parents because he didn’t meet testing criteria and had to remain in self-isolation.
“The system has failed my family, the government has failed my family,” said Craig Conoley in an interview with Global News.
Conoley is the primary caregiver for his parents, both of whom were diagnosed with deadly illnesses.
His father, Rodney, suffered from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, while his mother was diagnosed with an aggressive type of cancer called glioblastoma.
Conoley said he was a month or two away from going under the knife to donate his liver to his father. Then the pandemic hit, throwing everything off balance.
“When the pandemic hit, that mountain… it turned into Everest,” said Conoley. “And I’m like, ‘oh my god, how am I going to climb this thing now?’”
On top of that, Conoley started feeling flu-like symptoms and didn’t want to spend any time around his parents or commit to giving his liver to his father until he was certain he didn’t have the novel coronavirus.
So he went to get tested at Ottawa’s Brewer Park Arena and was shocked to find out that he didn’t meet the criteria.
“They also said that other people in that same situation would continue to get turned away, and I thought, ‘why is there a vulnerable part of the community, like myself and others that may not be getting these tests?’”
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After advocating for his cause online and reaching out to local politicians and Ottawa Public Health, Conoley said he was finally given the green light for the test over a week later under ‘special circumstances.’
But during that one-week waiting period, his father suffered a life-threatening medical complication and needed immediate surgery.