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Senior double-billed while waiting for placement

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The family of a 99-year-old woman wants to know why she was double-billed while waiting for a long-term care bed.

Pearl Ewaszchuk had been living in a senior’s lodge in south Edmonton until late November when she fell. She was taken to the Leduc hospital where it was decided Ewaszchuk needed to move out of the lodge to an extended-care facility.

There were no long-term beds available, so the hospital moved Ewaszchuk to a transition ward. The hospital began billing her family the $44.50 Waiting Placement Daily Fee – even though she had already paid her December fees at the senior’s lodge.

“We have to pay Canterbury Court $2,200 for the month of December plus we’ll be paying $1,300 total to the Leduc Hospital all within one month,” said her daughter, Nadine Moore. “I’m really shocked about it.”

Alberta Health Services charges $44.50 each day for patients who are no longer in a medical ward but need to wait in hospital for a long-term care bed.

The fee is the same amount seniors pay to live in an extended-care home. About 750 to 800 seniors pay the fee each day because there are currently not enough long-term care spaces in the province.

Alberta’s newly appointed health minister, Gene Zwozdesky, said Ewaszchuk’s family shouldn’t have been double-billed and vowed to look into the case.

“If someone has already paid for a particular service once, personally, I don’t see any reason why they should have to pay for it again,” he said.

Ewaszchuk was eventually placed in a extended-care home on Jan. 11.

Moore believes there are other Alberta seniors in the same situation as her mother and she worries there may not be family members to speak up for them. She argues that no one should be billed for time spent in a hospital.
“Seniors can’t operate on their pension and pay $44.50 for a hospital bed per day. They can’t afford it … and hopefully in the future, seniors are protected against that. It’s not fair.

“She’s fortunate that she’s got us to help her,” Moore said of her mother. “But a lot of people don’t or a lot of people won’t help.”

Adapted from CBC News, January 16, 2010.

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