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Divorce by nursing home policy implemented during H1N1 crisis: Towle

EDMONTON, AB (April 26, 2013): The PC government continues to have no exit strategy to scrap the policy of separating seniors from their homes by over 100 kilometres implemented as a temporary measure in 2009 during the H1N1 crisis, Wildrose Seniors Critic Kerry Towle said today.

A memo dated November 6, 2009 states “Alberta Health Services is committed to getting these clients back into their community of choice as soon as there is relief from the unique H1N1 Pandemic [sic] pressures and a bed becomes available.” “It is wrong, irresponsible and another sign of PC mismanagement that seniors continue to be divorced by nursing home as a result of a so called ‘interim’ policy created during the H1N1 crisis,” Towle said.  “Worse yet, while senior couples are separated every day, this government has shown no vision or leadership by reverting to a policy of allowing seniors to be place in their community of choice.” In the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, the Wildrose cited recent incidents of how this divorce by nursing home policy is negatively impacting the lives of seniors across Alberta. In Crowsnest Pass, a couple of 63 years, the husband suffering from Parkinson’s and the wife suffering from terminal cancer, are being separated by AHS, forcing the husband to take a taxi to see his wife and pay additional charges for meals. In Red Deer, a 96-year-old World War II veteran is in a private care facility and on the waiting list for extended care and is forced to leave to visit his wife who was placed into extended care in October. Responding to questions from Towle on why the AHS policy is still in place, Health Minister Fred Horne said that the policy is, “nothing any of us want to continue longer than possible, but it is a necessary response to a very temporary situation.” “Four years after the H1N1 crisis hit our province isn’t a ‘temporary situation’ as the minister is suggesting, it’s just another example of how the centralization of the AHS superboard is failing to provide quality health care services for Albertans,” Towle said. “Seniors built this province, they deserve better than being forced in their final years to be separated from their loved ones hundreds of kilometers away from their homes.”