As thousands of surgeries are being canceled in hospitals due to the pandemic, the federal government has deployed heavy artillery for gender reassignment operations on two inmates, including a murderer who has already escaped.
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The Correctional Service of Canada dispatched a dozen officers last week to the Metropolitan Surgery Center (CMC), a private facility specializing in this type of surgery.
The interventions were supported by the prison authorities, who paid all the expenses, including the procedure itself and the security.
Meanwhile, several hospitals have had to reduce their surgical activities by up to 50% in recent weeks due to the pandemic.
The situation is particularly difficult in the greater Montreal area, where intensive care is starting to overflow.
Last spring, discussions were held for patients from Sacré-Coeur Hospital to undergo day surgery at the CMC.
Risk of escape
One of the inmates operated on last week, Jamie Boulachanis, 47, has already escaped. Formerly known as John, she had hidden metal blades and a handcuff key to escape from a cellular van in 2013 before being caught.
She was then in preventive detention after a 13-year run that took her from Greece to the United States. In 2016, she was found guilty of the first degree murder of Robert Tanguay, which occurred in 1997. The latter was killed in a sand pit where he was buried. Boulachanis and his accomplices were part of an auto theft ring and feared being reported to the police by Tanguay.
Last year, a judge refused her request to be transferred from Port-Cartier prison to a women’s institution. The prison authorities then considered the risks of escape too high.
The other inmate traveled from Western Canada for surgery. The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) declined to comment on these cases. A spokesperson said, however, that interventions to treat gender dysphoria are considered essential.
“During the pandemic, services are offered in accordance with public health guidelines,” said Esther Mailhot, CSC media services.
– With Stéphane Alarie and Andrea Valeria
- Patients waiting before the pandemic: 114,000
- Patients waiting in early December: 140,000
Patients waiting for more than a year
◆ March: 3701
◆ June: 7554
◆ September: 10,758
◆ November: 12 115
Source: Ministry of Health and Social Services