2/20/11

Windsor hospital bed fees illegal says seniors advocacy group

Jane Meadus, a lawyer with the Toronto-based Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, says it's illegal for hospitals to charge patients $600 per day, even if they refuse to leave for a bed in a nursing home.  

Meadus said that under the Health Insurance Act, the maximum a hospital can charge a patient awaiting placement is $53.23 per day.  "That doesn't change in a crisis," she said. (The $600 fee planned by Windsor hospitals comes with a designation of a hospital bed crisis in the area.)  She said the demands for extra payment come when patients and their families are particularly stressed and vulnerable.


Windsor Regional Hospital president and CEO David Musyj said he's aware of the group's position on the hiked fees, but the new policy won't change.  "I disagree with her interpretation of the regulations," said Musyj.

He said the $600 fee is not meant to be a revenue generator or meant as a threat to patients to free up beds, but is designed to encourage "a discussion taking place" with the  patient and family when there is an alternative available to remaining in the hospital.

"I don't want to turn this into an attack on seniors or this group. It's not their fault," Musyj said of the elderly patients

Well, Musyj may not, but seniors are still going to be forced out of the hospital and shipped down the highway to Leamington.  And that sure sounds like an attack on their rights. 

Hospitals are faced with a budget crunch imposed by the provincial government which is leading to very high bed occupancy, backlogs in the ER, paramedic off-load delay, and cancelled surgeries.  So, unsurprisingly, other hospitals around the province have also adopted high bed fees to encourage patients to move to other facilities. 

Reflecting the problem, Musyj adds, "I'm the one who gets the phone call from the patient whose surgery is cancelled."

dallan@cupe.ca

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