Elderly N.S. couple says health-care policies are keeping them apart
An elderly Nova Scotia couple says government health-care policies are keeping them apart, after 62 years of marriage.
Edgar and Theresa MacPhee got married just before New Year’s Eve in 1952, but after a lifetime together, 85-year-old Edgar has spent the last year at the hospital in Antigonish while 90-year-old Theresa has been living at a nursing home in New Glasgow.
Both are wheelchair bound, meaning they need a driver to visit with each other. When they do get together at Glen Haven Manor, Edgar isn’t allowed to stay the night.
“I think it’s terrible, keeping us apart,” says Theresa.
“Why should we be separated just because our assessment is different than one another?” asks Edgar.
Health officials say Edgar requires care that is simply not available at Glen Haven Manor and, when long-term care is required, patients are assessed on their individual needs, not on their marital status.
“Unfortunately we don’t influence the decision-making process when it comes to placement, but we definitely collaborate with all of our partners in care to accommodate a variety of care needs,” says Lisa Smith, the CEO of Glen Haven Manor.
The couple’s daughter, Verna Stone, says the separation is taking a toll on her parents’ health.
“When mom calls crying, she’s lonesome,” says Stone. “I mean, we take dad here, but we can’t leave him here. We have to take him back.”
In a statement to CTV News, the health authority says it is sympathetic to the MacPhees’ situation, but also says the couple could move into one of 15 care facilities in the province that offer both levels of care, including a facility in Port Hawkesbury.
But Stone says they already tried and were told there is simply no room for her parents.
Meanwhile, Edgar and Theresa say they will do whatever it takes to spend their final days together.
“I’ll move wherever he’s going.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Bruce Frisko