Watch: A protest in Halifax at Veterans Affairs Canada over the government's handling of the Petter Blindheim case.
Blindheim is a 94-year-old Norwegian-Canadian war hero who has been denied long-term care at Camp Hill Veterans Hospital.
This bit from a Halifax paper editorial ...jollyjacktar said:This story pisses me off greatly. VAC are acting like a sack of dicks, it's not like he's not a second world war veteran or that they don't have bed space. I hope karma comes to visit them when they're senior citizens.
... suggests the province doesn't want this vet in a provincially-funded bed, even if the feds pay. This bit, on the other hand ...When our editorialist sat down for a brief interview with Kent Hehr on Monday, the federal minister of veterans affairs was clearly in a frame of mind to find a timely long-term care solution for Petter Blindheim.
In fact, Mr. Hehr said that if the premier of Nova Scotia wanted Mr. Blindheim to be cared for at Camp Hill Memorial Hospital in Halifax or in a provincial facility, he would “write him a cheque gladly tomorrow.”
Last week, the premier did lend his support to Mr. Blindheim, saying he should be getting the care he needs and deserves as a veteran ...
... suggests a "pigeonhole" problem: he's not QUITE the right kind of sick for the fed bed, so even if we have empty beds, we can't take him.... The decision was later reversed, but the family was then told he needed to meet "special conditions" to get into Camp Hill. One of the conditions, for example, is if he needed care he could not get in a regular nursing home due to a contagious disease.
On Monday, the family was told Blindheim did not meet the special conditions and he would not be admitted.
According to Blendheim, the family was told they should be pushing the province to see how quickly their father can get a bed in a community nursing home — which has a wait list of up to two years. Blendheim says Camp Hill currently has 13 empty beds and 16 of its beds are occupied by non-veterans ...
Veterans, politicians speak out for 94-year-old man denied hospital bed
The Canadian Press
The plight of a decorated 94-year-old veteran seeking a bed in a Halifax veterans’ hospital has turned Liberal against Liberal, with Nova Scotia’s premier unleashing some mildly unparliamentary language to describe Ottawa’s behaviour on the issue.
Stephen McNeil resorted to unusually candid terms after a cabinet meeting Thursday while commenting on a ruling by Veterans Affairs against Petter Blindheim’s bid for a bed at the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial hospital.
“I’m trying to find an appropriate word that I can tell you on the news, but there has been more bureaucratic BS associated with this issue and the national government needs to do the right thing and treat this vet with the dignity he deserves,” the premier said.
“He (Blindheim) was good enough to stand beside our ancestors and defend this country. What he’s looking for is an opportunity to die in the same company of those men that he fought alongside to defend this country and the national government should provide him with that opportunity...
Different veteran, same problem: N.B. veteran denied care in veteran’s hospital
Published Friday, June 17, 2016 8:12PM ADT
Last Updated Saturday, June 18, 2016 11:12AM ADT
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Another veteran in the Maritimes is being denied access to federally-funded care because he completed his war service in a country outside of Canada.
Frank Rusling was a member of the Royal Navy for 10 years, a police officer for another 10, and spent the remaining 30 years of his career as a Canadian Pacific Police Officer.
However, that’s not enough to get the 94-year-old into a veteran’s care facility in Saint John.
“I’m rather surprised about it,” said Frank. “I was always of the understanding that the Canadian Forces and the British Forces were sort of under one umbrella.”
Frank and his wife, Elsie, were under the impression that since he served in the Second World War, and he’s a dual citizen in Canada, that he’d still be able to settle into Ridgewood Veterans Wing.
“It was always assumed that they were veterans, just like the Canadian’s were,” said Elsie. “They were supposed to be part of that, but we found out recently that he’s not eligible for those benefits.”
Elsie takes care of Frank, but she knows she won’t be able to do that for long. The couple says they’re not yet ready to put Frank in a home, but they would like a plan for when that day comes.
Elsie says when he does go, she wants him close by.
“If I had to go a distance to visit him, it would be impossible because I’m 86 myself,” she said. “I thought Ridgewood would be nice and handy, and I could visit often.”
Veterans Affairs says it can’t comment on specific cases due to privacy concerns, but they did send this statement:
“…[A] veteran's citizenship has no bearing on their eligibility for long term care facilities in Canada. While we always work to deliver the support a Veteran needs, it is not always possible to do so in a specific facility of a Veteran's choosing."
That’s the same argument used to deny another war veteran, Petter Blindheim, admittance to Camp Hill Veterans' Memorial Hospital in Halifax.
As for the Ruslings, they say they’ll continue to wait, in hopes Ridgewood Veteran’s Wing will be a place Frank can call home when the time comes.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ashley Blackford.
Long-Term Care (LTC) has become a hot topic in the media in recent days. The reporting is often emotionally-charged as it deals with meeting the end-of-life needs of elderly Veterans. Without wading into the specifics of the particular cases being struggled with today, these cases do highlight a systemic issue related to the care that Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Veterans will require as they age over the next few decades. How do we shape tomorrow to meet the evolving needs of our modern day Veterans?
The current LTC programs were developed in the years following the Second World War when no publicly-funded health-care system was available. The CAF Veteran population’s needs are different than those of the War Service (WS) Veteran population that served in the 20th century. VAC estimates that in 2016, 702 CAF Veterans are receiving long-term care support from VAC, and this number is rising – an increase of 64 percent since 2012.
In 2014, my Office published a document entitled Veterans' Long-Term Care Needs: A Review of Assisted Living Options for Veterans. While the LTC program and the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) each address specific health-care needs for Veterans, a gap exists in cases where it is no longer medically advisable or safe for a Veteran to reside at home because of failing health or increasing care requirements. Many aging Veterans, however, are not unhealthy or disabled to an extent that would require them to be cared for in a long-term care facility, but their needs may also not be adequately met.
I believe that within the context of the overall review of VAC benefits now underway, VAC needs to take a serious look at all supports provided to aging Veterans to see if it is meeting their needs. An evidence-based continuum of care strategy needs to be developed that addresses the full spectrum of care needs as modern-day Veterans age. This strategy should consider programs that provide support and options to aging Veterans and their families. In addition to current programs such as VIP and LTC, I would propose that VAC starts looking at other initiatives. For example, the addition of an assisted living option and a family caregiver benefit that provides remuneration and training for family members who sacrifice their lives, careers and income to look after an ill or injured Veteran – both of which may better meet the health-care needs of Veterans.
Without a coherent strategy to ensure that VAC is meeting the needs of aging CAF Veterans, there will continue to be questions about the adequacy of support to a vulnerable, aging Veteran population. I hope that VAC takes advantage of this unique opportunity to shape tomorrow for Canada’s Veterans and their families.
This, from the Minister's info-machine:Petter Blindheim, the 94-year-old Norwegian Second World War veteran who’s been making headlines since being rejected from a veteran’s hospital, will finally be admitted into Camp Hill Veteran’s Memorial hospital in Halifax.
Nova Scotia MP Andy Fillmore’s office said Friday morning that they’ve confirmed Blindheim has been offered a bed at the hospital after an ongoing effort involving multiple levels of government.
Blindheim, a decorated war veteran, was originally denied admittance to the hospital on the grounds that he could receive adequate care at a provincial facility.
In a statement, federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Kent Hehr said the department has reached an agreement with the Nova Scotia Health Authority to expand access for veterans at Camp Hill ...
“Since we became aware of the challenges faced by Veterans in accessing long term care in Nova Scotia, we have been working very closely with Nova Scotia Members of Parliament and the Nova Scotia Health Authority to find a solution that ensures the well-being of our Veterans and of our Allied Veterans.
“Today, I am pleased to announce we have reached a new agreement with the Nova Scotia Health Authority to expand Veterans’ access to beds in the Camp Hill Veterans’ Memorial Building.
“The Veterans Health Care Regulations are not currently compassionate or flexible enough to address the urgent needs of our Veterans, so as we undertake a review to better address long term care needs, this measure will provide the flexibility necessary to help Veterans and their families.
“I wish to thank the Province of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Members of Parliament for their hard work and collaboration with us on this solution. It is a truly an important accomplishment for the Veterans.”
Today, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defense is pleased to further honour Veterans by announcing a new partnership agreement with Sunnybrook Veterans Centre. This new agreement expands Veterans’ access to Sunnybrook by including access for Canadian Veterans and Allied Veterans who are eligible for a community bed. Up to 30 long term care beds are being made available. This agreement builds on the longstanding collaboration and productive partnership that has existed between Veterans Affairs Canada and Sunnybrook Veterans Centre dating back more than 50 years.
With the new agreement now in place, on Tuesday, November 22nd the first Veteran was admitted to one of these beds.
“Though much has changed since Veterans Affairs Canada first started providing long-term care for Veterans, the department’s regulations did not always adapt to reflect this. Our new partnership with Sunnybrook and other facilities across the country allows greater flexibility and more compassion for our Veterans and their families as we continue our examination of the suite of health care policies to better reflect Veteran needs.”
The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
“At Sunnybrook, we are proud of our legacy of caring for Canada’s war veterans and we are continuously striving to provide our veterans with the best possible health care and quality of life. Today’s announcement is a positive step that will provide greater access for more veterans who are in need of long term care.”
Malcolm Moffat, Sunnybrook’s Executive Vice President of Programs
Sunnybrook Hospital, in partnership with the Government of Canada, has been proudly serving the needs of Veterans since 1948, providing both acute and long-term care. The hospital was transferred to the province of Ontario in 1966. The hospital stands as a symbol of the nation’s gratitude to our Veterans.
In 2015-2016, Veterans Affairs Canada contributed approximately $33 million for the long term care of Veterans at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in 478 beds.