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PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) – The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s Penn Medicine is allegedly denying medical treatment to a 62-year-old woman over her refusal to wear a mask due to lifelong trauma from a childhood assault.

The Epoch Times reported on the story of Rayne Barton, who as a five-year-old girl was assaulted by a group of teenage boys “putting their fingers down my throat, putting dirt in my face, up my nose, in my ears, and stepping on my face. They flipped me over and started rubbing my face into the dirt where I just couldn’t breathe.”

The crime left her with ongoing anxieties caused by any sort of obstruction of her mouth, from Halloween masks to bed sheets, coming to a head in 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19 and the ensuing frenzy for public masking.

Barton, a 40-year-patient of Penn Medicine with several medical issues including diabetes, a pacemaker, kidney trouble, and spinal stenosis, sought treatment at the network’s Lancaster Orthopedic Group in 2020 for a grapefruit-sized ligament on the back of a knee, but had an anxiety attack and left when they gave her a mask to wear.

Despite explaining her situation later via telephone, including sharing her deeply personal childhood experience, Barton was told “we can’t help you.”

Since then, Barton has had mixed results attempting to get unmasked care, including telehealth visits and some in-person visits for CT scans. But not all of her care needs have been met, as shown in a December 2021 attempt to get stenosis treatment at Lancaster Neuroscience & Spine Associates.

“They said I couldn’t go in without a mask because the doctor I was going to see just got back from getting chemo and we can’t risk her,” Barton said. “Why is she working if she’s that fragile? Why is that my responsibility? I don’t understand that.” The facility called the police when she refused to leave.

Since then, Barton says she has been denied appointments with her general practitioner, cardiologist, or any of the rest of her doctors, and had a scheduled procedure canceled on her because she refused a COVID test, believing the nasal swab would trigger a similar attack.

On February 17, Lancaster General Health Physicians notified Barton in writing that “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.”

Desperate for answers, she made dozens of unsuccessful efforts to contact Lancaster General Health CEO John Herman by telephone, for which she was accused of harassment and told not to set foot on any grounds related to Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health spokesman John Lines declined to answer Epoch’s questions regarding its training or policies for providing care to trauma victims, instead simply stating that “While we are unable to discuss specific patient situations, we follow CDC guidelines for patients and visitors, including guidelines for accommodations that enable the delivery of effective care while ensuring the safety of all our patients and providers.”

In an interview with Epoch, Barton painted a picture of hopelessness, explaining that her pacemaker has gone unchecked for two years and her prescription medications are running out, and that she is opting not to seek care elsewhere.

“I’m not taking my medicine,” she said. “There’s nothing I can do. I’m so tied with Penn Medicine. I’ve been under their umbrella and part of their family for the last 40 years, and if my family can’t take care of me, surely a stranger can’t. If they can call me and tell me to come get treatment without a mask, I’ll go. But I’m not going to stand and fight for it anymore. I’m tired. I’m too old to have to fight for medical care.”

The most perverse irony to the tragic situation is that the evidence of masks’ effectiveness at stopping COVID does not match the zeal with which masking proponents demand them.

Among that evidence is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s September 2020 acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out COVID when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, and a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”

Last May, another study found that, though mandates effectively increased mask use, that usage did not yield the expected benefits. “Mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decreas[ing] cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children.

While denying medical care on the basis of mask noncompliance, Penn Medicine’s true priorities appear well in line with the dominant sensibilities of the political and media establishments; in a March 29 press release, the network boasts that its hospitals “have been honored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation” for “promoting equitable and inclusive care for LGBTQ+ patients and their families.”

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