By Arthur Weinreb

Dec 13, 2011 -         in Health

Read more:

Toronto - Toronto East General Hospital apologized to an 84-year-old woman and her family after threatening to charge the woman $1,300 a day to remain under their care.

Ruth Woodside, 84, had suffered a stroke. She is unable to communicate and requires a feeding tube. And after spending two months at Toronto East General Hospital (TEGH), she was ready to be discharged.

Her family was given a list of long-term care facilities with relatively short waiting times and asked to choose three. Alas, they only selected two of the facilities; they were the only ones family members could easily get to using public transit.

Last Thursday, Carol McMurray, Woodside's daughter, received a letter from TEGH. The family were given three options; they could add a third choice, take Woodside home, or pay $1,300 per day to allow the stroke victim to remain in hospital.

The family went to see Michael Prue, the NDP MPP for Beaches-East York whose riding includes the hospital. Yesterday, Prue, along with Ontario NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, held a press conference about how Woodside was treated.

Horwath said the province must stop the practice of threatening to charge those waiting for long-term care. The NDP leader said,

The government says the right things to get the right headlines but families like Ruth's are still facing the same frightening threats.

Prue added,

Forcing seniors to choose between bankruptcy and separation from their friends and families is wrong, and it shows how badly we need change.

Shortly after the press conference concluded, the hospital issued a statement. They apologized for what happened and offered to apologize to the family, not only in writing but in person as well. According to TEGH, as soon as senior administrators were informed of what took place, the letter was rescinded. Said the release, Hospital policy does not allow for charging patients who are unable to go home a per diem of $1,300 per day.

Last February, the Toronto Star discovered some Ontario hospitals were threatening to charge people who were in situations like Woodside's up to $1,800 for every day they remained in hospital. After this was revealed by the Star, the Ontario MInistry of Health sent notices to all hospitals advising the institutions they can charge no more than $53.23 per day to patients who are eligible for discharge but waiting for beds elsewhere.Yesterday, Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews was quoted as saying,They made a mistake. It should not have happened.

Read more: