Cape Breton families COVID-19 struggles made worse by ambulance bills they shouldn't have received
It's been more than three months since Donna Holloway received her first ambulance bill in the mail. Her husband was transported to hospital by EHS after his contracting COVID-19.
Wednesday, a letter came saying the bill would be sent to collections if it wasn't paid by the end of this month.
"I dealt with this for so long I'm sick to my stomach, I'm very overwhelmed," says Holloway.
But it didn't take long for that bill to be waived today, after CTV made an inquiry to the Department of Health and Wellness.
"Before you got here, my phone rang," Holloway told a CTV reporter.
Andrea Martin and her husband Sheldon both tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year and both received ambulance bills in the mail.
"Today, I called back and said 'I need a reply because I'm waiting to give my answer to CTV News and they called me back within seconds and said that mine was covered, that they just got word today," says Martin.
Sheldon was admitted to hospital for some time, but today was told his bill would not be waived.
"It's not even about paying the bill, it's the principle. We sat behind a TV screen like everyone else watched the briefing and said we'd be taken care of," says Martin.
On May 4, then-premier Iain Rankin made this announcement: "I want to tell Nova Scotian's if you're feeling symptoms from COVID and if you have difficulty breathing at home, please call an ambulance. We will waive the fee," said Rankin.
Martin says her husband was taken by ambulance before that date, so they will still have to pay the bill.
"We're still dealing with the illness itself and we're trying to move forward in our lives and now you get this stuff. The mental stress it has put on our lives and not just me, everyone that's dealing with it and then to get something like this is just so cold and so disheartening," she added.
In an email, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Wellness says Nova Scotian's should not be charged for an ambulance if their need for EHS services was required due to COVID-19 and that if a patient was billed in error, they should contact EHS immediately.