Canadian Couple Married 62 Years Forced To Live Apart Because of Government Health Care

Screenshot / CNN
August 26, 2016

A Canadian couple married for 62 years si being forced to live more than 30 minutes apart since neither of their nursing home facilities can accommodate the two of them.

Wolf and Anita Gottschalk live in two different nursing homes in Surrey, British Columbia, NBC News reports. Wolf is 83 and Anita is 81.

A backlog at Anita's care facility has caused the issue. Their family drives Anita every other day to Wolf's facility, but the couple leaves in tears as they have to say goodbye. Their family would like to be able to have them both in Anita's facility so they can spend more time together.

Due to health issues, the family is racing the clock:

The ordeal began in January, when Wolf was hospitalized for congestive heart failure, and then moved to Yale Road Centre, a transitional facility where the average stay is between 4 and 12 weeks, according to Fraser Health Authority. But after being hospitalized twice more for heart problems, Wolf kept getting bumped to this bottom of the wait list to go to a long-term care facility, Bartyik said. Health workers deemed him too ill to go home to his wife Anita.

Then two months ago, Anita, 81, who has a pacemaker, moved into an assisted living complex at the Residences at Morgan Heights. The complex is set up for residents with varying health needs, and Bartyik has been trying to get her grandfather moved there, even if in a different wing.

Their granddaughter, Ashley Bartyik, has had to to quit her job in order to help take care of the couple as Wolf's condition has become increasingly worse:

"Today he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Besides that limiting his time and making this more urgent, his dementia is growing ever stronger each day, but his memory of my grandmother has not faded a inch...yet," she wrote.

On Facebook, Bartyik posted a photo of the couple crying as they had to say goodbye.

The family has been spending their time trying to get Wolf moved into Anita's facility, but Bartyik is hoping to have things changed in Canada, where the government controls such matters, including health care:

"With our health care system, you can pay for a bed for 6,000, 7,000, 8,000 dollars a month. If we did the GoFundMe, we may or may not be able to get him a bed quicker," she said. "We know we would probably have the money to move him into a privatized bed. But that would defeat the purpose. There's thousands of other families who are in our position."

Instead, she hopes their story will prompt a policy change.

"Best-case scenario would be number one, my grandfather getting in as soon as possible into the Residence at Morgan Heights where my grandmother is. Number two would be if a policymaker or someone in our local government could become an advocate for the lack of beds," she said.

Published under: Canada , Health Care