Television proves costly, frustrating for senior in Vancouver hospital

 

B.C. family says it made many calls and emails before patient’s only lifeline to the outside — TV — was repaired

 
 
 
 
Duncan Cameron, 87, has been at Vancouver General Hospital for the last seven weeks after having his leg amputated. His one lifeline to the outside world is the in-room TV, which costs a whopping $84 a week … and was broken for three days. 
 His family (here with son John) has been battling for his father to have a better  television system in the hospital. 
  
 Mark van Manen /PNG Staff photographer 
  
 see Bethany Lindsay/Vancouver Sun/   News  and Web. stories. 
  
 00040508A
 

Duncan Cameron, 87, has been at Vancouver General Hospital for the last seven weeks after having his leg amputated. His one lifeline to the outside world is the in-room TV, which costs a whopping $84 a week … and was broken for three days. His family (here with son John) has been battling for his father to have a better television system in the hospital. Mark van Manen /PNG Staff photographer see Bethany Lindsay/Vancouver Sun/ News and Web. stories. 00040508A

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

VANCOUVER -- For seven weeks, the TV in 87-year-old Duncan Cameron’s room at Vancouver General Hospital has given him a crucial connection to the rest of the planet while he recovers from a leg amputation. And it’s come at a considerable cost: $12 a day.

In all, his family has paid nearly $600 to service provider Hospitality Network so that the retired Vancouver police detective and Second World War veteran can keep up to date on the stock markets, world news and sports. His daughter, Lisa Jones, described the price for TV as “exorbitant” for a basic cable service of about 45 channels.

“It’s not like Dad’s watching HBO in there,” she said. “I could understand if you were paying for a premium service, but when you’re paying for a basic service, $12 a day — that’s insane.”

The family can afford the cost and they’re happy to pay to keep their father connected, but Jones worries about patients who might be less fortunate.

“What about your elderly or your sick that are on income assistance? Are you telling me that they don’t deserve to have that one lifeline in the hospital? That’s crazy to me,” she said.

Hospitality Network does offer monthly rates of $280, but the fee is non-refundable and no one in the family expected Cameron’s hospital stay to last this long.

The family’s frustrations with the TV service provider escalated on Sunday, when the ceiling-mounted set in Cameron’s room stopped working. Jones spent a frustrating three days trying to get Hospitality Network to make the repairs, but it wasn’t until late Tuesday afternoon, after The Vancouver Sun spoke with the company’s CEO about the issue, that the TV was fixed.

“Because he’s lost his leg, he’s bedridden. It’s not like he’s walking around the hospital or he’s got other things to do. The TV is literally his lifeline to the outside world,” Jones said. “To take that away from him, and to have this drag on for so long … as a consumer and an advocate for my dad, it’s awful.”

She, her brother and her brother’s girlfriend said they had each called or emailed the Regina-based television provider multiple times on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, to no end. According to VGH’s patient and family handbook, a representative from Hospitality Network is on site seven days a week from noon to 8 p.m.

“It may seem trivial to some people — oh, you have a TV or you don’t — but when that’s all you’ve got, the hospital is such a depressing place,” Jones said.

Wireless Internet connections aren’t available in patient rooms at VGH, so it wasn’t possible for Cameron to use a video streaming service.

The Regina-based Hospitality Network provides TV service for more than 200 hospitals and 170 care homes across the country. The company has worked with VGH for at least 15 years, according to CEO Serge Lafleur.

Lafleur said the daily TV fee is negotiated with Health Shared Services B.C., which procures services for the hospital. A portion of the cost is paid to VGH as a commission, but he would not reveal the exact percentage.

“It’s more expensive than if you compare it to at home, but when you look at the total value of what we provide back to the hospital, what we provide to the patient, we still believe it’s a fair price,” he said.

He said his company had received just one call from Duncan Cameron’s family, on Monday at about noon, but promised that a field technician would visit the hospital soon to take care of the problem. He added that the family would be reimbursed the fees paid for the time the service was out.

Cameron’s son John described the allegation that his family had only called the company once as “unbelievable.”

“It’s been three days. We call every three hours and we get different people, and they’re like, ‘Why are you calling again?’” he said.

The CRTC does not regulate rates for TV service in hospitals.

blindsay@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/bethanylindsay

 
 
 
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Duncan Cameron, 87, has been at Vancouver General Hospital for the last seven weeks after having his leg amputated. His one lifeline to the outside world is the in-room TV, which costs a whopping $84 a week … and was broken for three days. 
 His family (here with son John) has been battling for his father to have a better  television system in the hospital. 
  
 Mark van Manen /PNG Staff photographer 
  
 see Bethany Lindsay/Vancouver Sun/   News  and Web. stories. 
  
 00040508A
 

Duncan Cameron, 87, has been at Vancouver General Hospital for the last seven weeks after having his leg amputated. His one lifeline to the outside world is the in-room TV, which costs a whopping $84 a week … and was broken for three days. His family (here with son John) has been battling for his father to have a better television system in the hospital. Mark van Manen /PNG Staff photographer see Bethany Lindsay/Vancouver Sun/ News and Web. stories. 00040508A

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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