Gold Coast resident Jeff Cruise with a photo of his wife Sheila, who is in a Gold Coast nursing home. Picture: Jason O'Brien
Gold Coast resident Jeff Cruise with a photo of his wife Sheila, who is in a Gold Coast nursing home. Picture: Jason O'Brien

‘My wife was treated like a leper’

FOR nearly 60 years Jeffery Cruise and his wife Sheila paid full hospital insurance cover and extras for the dreaded day they would need it.

But when that day came late last year they claim Mrs Cruise was denied admission to two Gold Coast private hospitals because she suffers from dementia.

The 75-year-old mother of three had bleeding on the brain after a severe fall at her Labrador nursing home.

Instead of being transported immediately to their selected private hospital, the family says paramedics were twice told not to turn up because of Mrs Cruise's disease.

Mr Cruise and his daughter Susan Pagram say paramedics were told not to transport the severely injured 75-year-old woman to two Gold Coast private hospitals after she suffered a fall in December last year.

One of the those private hospitals, Gold Coast Private, denied the accusations. The other, Pindara Hospital, did not respond to a Bulletin request for comment.

 

Outraged Mr Cruise is calling for more transparency in the ability for private hospitals to decide the patients they take.

He has also cancelled the $460-a-month insurance payments he says he scrimped and saved to pay.

Mr Cruise and his daughter Susan Pagram say Shelia took a major fall in her care home on December 18.

Ms Pagram said paramedics were told that Pindara Hospital did not have the staff to take a dementia patient.

"They had called the hospital ahead. They didn't want her because of her dementia. She could be treated in emergency but they wouldn't take her if they had to admit her.

"They called the Gold Coast Private Hospital and the situation was the same. They didn't have the facilities. We ended up having to take her to Robina.

"I was angry. I didn't realise they had the power to knock people back.

"They have been paying so I could have stayed in a room with her."

When examined at Robina Public Hospital it was discovered the elderly woman had bleeding on the brain.

Mr Cruise has written to Federal MP Angie Bell and the State Health Minister about the incident.

He said he and his wife took out full private health insurance in 1963 because of Sheila's family history with dementia.

Diagnosed with the fatal disease in 2014 Mrs Cruise was placed into care in late 2018, costing the couple near $3700 a month.

Calling for more transparency in the ability for private hospitals to decide the patients they take. Picture: Jason O'Brien
Calling for more transparency in the ability for private hospitals to decide the patients they take. Picture: Jason O'Brien

"I am on a pension and virtually all of what I get goes to pay for the nursing home and the insurance," he said.

"It disturbs me people are paying out all this money when they get old, they need treatment but there is no guarantee they will get it.

"Hospitals can decide not to accept you even if you are part of a fund.

"My wife was treated like a leper.

"I feel sorry for the ambos, it must be a blooming headache for them."

Gold Coast Private general manager David Harper said the hospital did not refuse patients due to a dementia diagnosis.

"In fact, on any given day, we have many people with dementia receiving care in our hospital, including being admitted via emergency."

Mr Harper was unable to comment on the specific case.

QAS would not comment on an individual case.

Medibank spokesman said the refusal of treatment in an ED on the basis of a dementia diagnosis was uncommon.

"If someone has a complaint about a health service provider or a health service in Queensland, we recommend they contact the Office of the Health Ombudsman. In this instance, we've also invited the customer to call us if they have further questions."


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