73-year-old woman abandoned by husband

Letter to the Editor written by Sandra Bauld, HRM – a valued member of the CARP NS Health Advocacy Committee.

GREAT DISCONNECT — “It happens more often than you think,” Mary Jane Hampton stated in the Chronicle Herald Nov. 28 story, “73-year-old woman abandoned by husband at South Shore Regional Hospital.” While this is so sad and disruptive to the people affected, the more disturbing aspect to this story for me was why Department of Community Services has not stepped up to provide for housing and possibly legal aid. The article said Elaine Flemming was working with a social worker to find housing, without success. Of course her resources are limited, as we know is the case for many senior women in our province!
There continues to be a great disconnect between the two government departments — Health and Wellness and Community Services — wherein many people “fall through the cracks.” In addition, these situations result in incredible costs to the system. Just think about it: a hospital bed at over $1,000 per day vs. providing social assistance and housing for far fewer taxpayer dollars.
Many attempts have been made over the years by Health and Wellness to facilitate improved communication and resource allocation between these departments by appointing a “liaison” position. It seems obvious that another initiative of government has proved ineffective, as illustrated in Ms. Flemming’s case. On the same front page, we read the account of fraudulent activity in the social assistance system over many years, with over $230,000 spent! It makes my head spin to think of who is in charge or, more importantly, accountable, for spending our tax dollars. Millions are spent on inquiries into situations where injustices in the system appear to prevail. I believe there should be an inquiry into the injustice Ms. Flemming is enduring as a result of the ineffectiveness of departments of Health and Wellness and Community Services.

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