Pennsylvania Woman Arrested at Doctor’s Office, Denied Care Over Refusal to Wear a Face Mask

Pennsylvania Woman Arrested at Doctor’s Office, Denied Care Over Refusal to Wear a Face Mask
Rayne Barton in her home in Elizabethtown, Penn., on March 29, 2022. (Beth Brelje/The Epoch Times)
Beth Brelje

Rayne Barton, 62, didn’t expect that her first visit to the doctor in months would end in arrest, but there she was on July 22, in the waiting room with her wrists handcuffed behind her back.

She would not be seeing the doctor that day.

Barton, of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, would not leave as requested after she refused to wear a COVID-19 face mask, which is required at Hypertension and Kidney Specialists in Lancaster.

Hypertension and Kidney Specialists is an independent practice with an office on the Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Suburban Pavilion property.

At the request of the office manager at Hypertension and Kidney Specialists, the East Hempfield Township Police removed Barton from the building, according to a criminal complaint. She was taken in a wheelchair, put in a squad car, and driven to the police department to be fingerprinted and photographed.

On the way to the police station, the car rounded a corner and Barton fell on her side and hit her head on the car door.

“The officer looked in his rearview mirror, saw me gone, and he said, ‘Are you okay?’ I said ‘Yeah, I’m just fine.’ And then I went to get myself up, and I’m like, ‘oh no, I can’t get up,’” Barton told The Epoch Times.

Her back is compromised due to spinal stenosis, and with her hands still cuffed behind her back, she was unable to pull herself up.

“They pulled over off the road to lift me upright in the back of the cruiser,” she said.

After she was processed at the police department, Barton was released and told that charges would arrive in the mail. She was charged with defiant criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, and must appear in court in September.

It is unknown when she will see a doctor.

Past Issue With Masks

This wasn’t Barton’s first confrontation with medical office staff who told her she couldn’t see her providers unless she wore a mask.

The Epoch Times published a report in March 2022 about Barton’s struggle to receive medical care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She is unable to wear a mask due to childhood trauma stemming from an assault during which she nearly suffocated.

Barton has been banned from all Penn Medicine facilities since Feb. 17, 2022, because of the mask dispute.

Since then, she has not seen a doctor nor had her prescriptions filled. Her pacemaker must be checked every four months but hasn’t been looked at in over two years.

However, she has tried to be seen by her long-time doctors. She is not sure where else to turn.

When she’s really needed medical care in recent months, Barton has called her former doctors’ offices and tried to set appointments, but until recently, the computer system wouldn’t allow schedulers to add her to the calendar.

Then one day, when she called to request an appointment at Hypertension and Kidney Specialists, the receptionist on the phone added Barton to the calendar on July 22 without issue, she said.

Barton said she figured it would be OK to see the doctor again, and that it was a relief because she needed care. She did not intend to get arrested.

But when she arrived at the office, it was the same situation as before.

“The office manager called the police because I wasn’t going to leave. I was there for a scheduled appointment,” Barton said. “I was not going to be bullied into leaving.”

Extensive Medical Needs

In addition to spinal stenosis, Barton has a painful cyst about the size of a grapefruit on the back of her knee that must be removed. She also suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney issues, and she has a pacemaker.

Before she was banned in February, Barton had been seeing the same group of physicians for 40 years at Penn Medicine, which is part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Barton was served without a mask a few times, but most offices refused her care without the mask.

She was once offered the accommodation of taking a COVID-19 test in her car. If negative, she could have used a separate entrance for a planned medical procedure. But because the test involved a swab being pushed into her nose, Barton couldn’t take the test and didn’t have the procedure.

A few times in late 2021, she entered medical offices without a mask and was told to mask up, but she refused. Barton explained her trauma history, which she had kept private for years, and demanded to be seen by her doctors.

Office staff called the police once, but Barton was not arrested that time.

Soon after that, Barton tried to set an appointment with a Penn Medicine doctor and the scheduler told her the computer would not let her. She could not get in to see her general practitioner, cardiologist, or any other doctors.

In February 2022, Barton received a letter saying Lancaster General Health Physicians had terminated the provider–patient relationship.

The letter stated: “You have refused our offers to accommodate and have been rude and argumentative to staff. We no longer believe that we are able to work together regarding your health care needs. You are prohibited from being on the property or entering any LG health facility with the exception of Lancaster General Hospital emergency department. In the event of a medical emergency you may always seek care at Lancaster General Hospital emergency department. We will happily facilitate the transfer of your records to an alternative provider.”

But Barton didn’t know where she could go when the medical providers in her community all required masking. She wanted to stay with the close-to-home doctors she had been working with for decades. They knew her case.

Barton says she made 30 to 40 calls to Lancaster General Health CEO John Herman, but never received a return call or connected with him directly.

Then in March, she got a letter from Kathryn Weinrich, executive director of legal services at Lancaster General Health, warning Barton that her calls to Herman were harassment and that she was to have no further contact with the organization.

She was not to call or step foot in any facility related to the University of Pennsylvania Health System, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Lancaster General Health, and other named satellite offices.

Trauma Survivor

At age 5, Barton was playing with other little girls near the train tracks in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when a large group of teenage boys came upon the girls, separated them, and assaulted them.

They threw Barton down on her back in the dirt. Two boys held her legs, and another sat on her waist and held her down at the elbows.

Barton recalls how they put their fingers down her throat and smashed dirt in her face, up her nose, and in her ears. They stepped on her face, then flipped her over and rubbed her face in the dirt.

She recalls how she couldn’t breathe and thought she was going to die. There was a police report at the time. After that, her parents moved out of the neighborhood to get away from the scene of the crime.

The attack left an imprint in Barton’s mind to always protect her face.

She has discomfort when she’s pulling a shirt over her head and it takes too long to slip past her face. Turtlenecks are out of the question because they are too restrictive. She never wore a Halloween mask, and before sleeping, she makes sure the blanket is clear from her face.

She has sought counseling through the years but still guards her face and avoids situations that would require her to cover it. Once COVID-19 mask requirements were implemented, she stayed home, except to see the doctor.

Accommodations for Trauma Survivors

Trauma-informed care is not a new concept.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published a 2014 booklet, titled “SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach.”

It describes a trauma-informed approach to care, including ensuring that individuals feel physically and psychologically safe, share in decision making about their care, are able to self-advocate, and are offered service that is healing and responsive to their traumatic experiences.

The Epoch Times asked Penn Medicine to describe its current masking policy and any trauma-informed services for survivors of rape, child abuse, and other trauma. Penn Medicine did not respond.

But the regional health care provider is not unfamiliar with trauma-informed care, and it trains others on how to care for trauma victims.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health offered a 2019 community training titled, “Trauma 101: Understanding Trauma, Resilience and Trauma Informed Care.”

A July 19, 2021, press release announced that the City of Lancaster and Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health jointly received a $300,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency “to Build a trauma informed Lancaster City.”

The grant was for Penn Medicine to train community groups using a dedicated Lancaster City trauma-informed training specialist.

“A trauma informed community strives to do no harm and recognizes past and ongoing traumas such as historic and structural racism, exclusion, isolation and the chronic, daily stressors of concentrated poverty and exposure to community violence,” the Penn Medicine press release said.

“Penn Medicine LG Health has served as the backbone organization convening the community and providing education and training on the impact that positive and adverse childhood experiences have on health and well-being, and steps organizations can take on the path to become trauma informed.”

Beth Brelje is a national, investigative journalist covering politics, wrongdoing, and the stories of everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]