News Local

Mom stuck with $30,000 bill for hospital transfer

By Alan S. Hale, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

TIMMINS - 

The Timmins and District Hospital has found itself at the centre of a controversy where an Alberta woman has been saddled with a $30,000 bill because the local hospital was not prepared to help her when she gave birth prematurely.

The woman in question, Amy Savill, was in Timmins visiting relatives late last month when she went into labour two months before she was due. She was rushed to the city hospital, but in the end, had to be transported by air ambulance to Sudbury to deliver her baby because the TADH was not equipped to help her.

Because she is not from Ontario, her flight in the ambulance was not covered by the province, and she is now being asked to pay $30,000 for the trip.

Hospital unions are holding up the incident as an example of the harm caused by the Liberal government’s health policies.

“Timmins has greatly reduced hospital capacity as a result of recent bed and service cuts. Air ambulance services have been privatized,” said Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. “Northern Ontario is particularly hard hit by the hospital cutbacks because of its geography. Ms. Savill simply had the misfortune to be at the centre of all of these factors. Ontario owes her an apology and should cover these costs.”

According to the World Health Organization, 10.5% of births in North America happen before the fetus reaches full-term. The Daily Press asked the hospital how it is possible that something so common could not be handled locally.

However, the hospital declined to discuss the matter, citing privacy concerns.

Hospital spokeswoman Quinn Thompson did confirm the hospital is capable of caring for premature babies, but the hospital management refused to discuss what the limits are on their ability to provide that care.

Nonetheless, because the hospital was not able to provide care for her birth, Saville was transferred to Sudbury following provincial referral guidelines.

“Not every service, equipment, or trained staff is available at the Timmins and District Hospital and like many hospitals, TADH uses an established provincial referral process to connect patients to the required level of care,” said Thompson in the hospital’s official statement.

According to the Toronto Star, which originally reported the story, Saville was told the hospital was not equipped to deal with births more than one month premature (or 32 weeks of gestation). When asked if this was the case directly, the hospital still refused to comment.

Saville’s daughter, Amelia, was born on July 20 weighing about four pounds. The charity group, CanadaHelp.org, has stepped in to try and raise $55,000 for the mother and child to pay for her bill and for her stay in Sudbury.

Both premiers Kathleen Wynne and Rachel Notley have said they are looking into the situation, but no promises of covering the cost of the flight have been made.