Mark Mattison’s Appeal Letter to Premier Alward

January 31, 2014                                                                                                      184 Savannah Drive

Honourable David Alward – Premier of New Brunswick                                  Moncton, N.B. E1A-6T7

 

Dear Premier Alward,

Please accept this letter as a request for the Alward government to reconsider the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) policy change of May 2012, which eliminated both choice and financial subsidy for acute care seniors entering specialized care homes in New Brunswick.

My mother, Pauline Mattison, is eighty three years old, a dialysis patient at the George Dumont Hospital, has advanced macular degeneration, and since falling and breaking both her hip and elbow last spring, requires 24 hour care. As her rehabilitation began to plateau in September 2013, it became readily apparent that there were very limited care options for my mother. Both Spencer’s and Monarch were not accepting dialysis patients due to the suspension of the subsidized, provincial transportation.  In fact, they wouldn’t even put her on a waiting list. After extensive research we finally secured a bed at McNair Manor, only to discover that the provincial government had, in May 2012, changed the admission criteria for seniors entering specialized care homes. Only those patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, or serious dementia, would now qualify for the provincial subsidy. To place mom into McNairs, DSD told us that the family would have to sign a “private pay waiver” which effectively meant that she would never be eligible to receive a provincial subsidy while residing at a specialized care home. Initially, DSD’s very scripted response was that they felt my mother “would be at risk and would receive inferior care” at a private home. Of course, as soon as our family signed the private pay waiver, those concerns were no longer an issue. How convenient. For the record, the care mom has received at McNairs has been exemplary, confirming what our pre-placement research had indicated.

Faced with only one alternative – mom would have to stay at the George Dumont (along with another eight dialysis patients that DSD had no placement options for) for a duration of 12 – 24 months, our family decided to private pay, costing us $4650 per month. My siblings and I have had to cash in retirement accounts, while my 85 year old father who lives alone, now faces the distinct possibility of being forced to sell the family home when our funds run out. The financial and emotional stress placed upon my family has been enormous, particularly upon my father who has advanced prostate cancer.

The obvious solution to DSD’s misguided policy is returning to the pre May 2012 system which was a resounding success since 1996, allowing “3B” residents equal access to both choice and subsidy. The general public wins as they would benefit from the certainty of a shared cost model and with specialized care homes as a viable option, loved ones in most cases could be placed in closer geographic proximity to family.  The province wins as specialized care homes can provide a bed at a minimum 50% savings versus the cost of a nursing home bed. The specialized care homes win as they would be able to fill empty beds and by once again working with the province as a valued partner, alleviating cost pressures while affording these entrepreneurs an opportunity to grow their businesses. With our provincial deficit tracking over $500M per year, these cost savings would constitute a verifiable windfall.  Every taxpayer in the province should be up in arms over DSD’s blatant misappropriation of tax dollars, especially when a proven and cost effective private sector solution is so obvious, even to the untrained eye.

I’ve enclosed my letter of appeal to DSD along with Minister Dube’s response, which frankly, I find disingenuous. The Minister knows full well that the “all in cost” of the government monthly rate is at least double her quoted rate of $3685 and that the $500 dialysis transportation cost is not “an additional charge” imposed by McNair Manor, but rather the provincial subsidy that our family no longer qualifies for once we were forced into a private pay arrangement, making us ineligible. Minister Dube’s comment that DSD never withheld the transportation subsidy is stunningly inaccurate. The afore mentioned subsidy was in fact pulled by DSD for approximately two months during the summer and early fall of 2013. Dr. Dorval at the George Dumont Hospital can confirm this.

Why is DSD refusing subsidy to seniors who have no dementia? These seniors were previously 3B assessed and are now 3A (heavier care) due to a healthy mind. Currently, if they cannot pay privately (due to no subsidy) they must go to a nursing home – if a bed is available, costing N.B. up to five times more subsidy. None of this makes any sense!

I trust that the challenges and hurdles that my family and hundreds of other New Brunswick families have faced in finding a dignified home for our loved ones will cause the N.B. Progressive Conservative Party to reconsider their current policy concerning choice and financial subsidy for acute care seniors entering specialized care homes.

I will await your response.

 

Sincerely,

Mark Mattison

 

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