May 4, 2015 12:53 pm
Updated: May 5, 2015 7:43 pm

Instead of compassionate care benefits, Montreal woman mired in bureaucracy

The LaSalle General Hospital where Antonius Felicien was admitted with shortness of breath.

Billy Shields/Global News

MONTREAL — After three weeks of chasing paper, Marie Felicien is still no closer to accessing the compassionate care benefits she hoped to get for caring for her dying father.

“I’m no closer to getting the document now than when I started.” 

“I still need the the letter, regarding that my father was ill and he still needed assistance with his sickness and that he couldn’t be by himself,” she said.

Marie Felicien says she’s no closer to getting a document that would give her Compassionate Care benefits than when she started.

Billy Shields/Global News

Earlier this year, Marie’s father Antonius Felicien went to LaSalle General Hospital complaining of shortness of breath, he died April 13.

READ MORE: Is accessing compassionate leave benefit in Quebec an issue? A Montreal nurse says yes 

Marie took time off her job as a nurse at the Jewish General Hospital. To keep her job — and to qualify for back-pay — she said she needs a doctor’s note confirming her late father’s condition.

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Antonius’ general practitioner, Dr. Eric Pauyo, said he was unable to issue this document because was was last treated at the LaSalle General Hospital.

But according to Marie, the hospital has been unable to help.

“I feel like I’ve been getting the run around.” 

According to the Collège des médecins, which sets the norms in the province for the medical profession, the doctor responsible for signing such a letter is the one “who knows the most about the patient’s situation.”

READ MORE: 5 things to know about applying for compassionate care benefits

However, the college also noted that situations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and that each scenario is different.

After repeated requests for comment, the hospital issued a brief statement in French, indicating it would would attempt to help Marie navigate the compassionate care benefits program if she contacted the hospital’s complaints department.

But the nurse said hospital doctors had told her to contact Dr. Pauyo, leaving her at a dead end.

According to social worker Stephanie Erickson, who works with the elderly, documents are hardly top-of-mind for the bereaved.

“The problem is that you’re in a crisis situation and you’re not thinking about procedures or process,” she said.

“You’re thinking ‘I love you, I want to be with you.’ That’s what you’re focusing on.” 

Confidentiality issues

Confidentiality rules are persistent problems encountered by both Marie Felicien and Global News — both Dr. Pauyo and the hospital cited them.

Yet the need to protect the confidentiality of someone who already has passed on is negligible, and his daughter said she views it as a hindrance.

“I’m not expecting them to go into any great detail,” she said.

“Just that he was a palliative patient [near death], and confirm how long he was expected to live.”

“There’s not much confidentiality in that.” 

Doctors at the hospital diagnosed the 81-year-old man with heart disease, and he was not expected to survive.

WATCH ABOVE: Access to compassionate leave in Quebec a challenge

Rather than die at a hospital or a clinic, the man chose to receive palliative care at home, and Marie took off work to take care of him.

Immediate family members caring for dying persons are eligible for federal Compassionate Care benefits, or a similar provincial version.

The LaSalle General Hospital where Antonius Felicien was admitted with shortness of breath.

Billy Shields/Global News

Both programs allow for at least a month and a half of leave — and both require a letter documenting the condition of the dying person.

Now that Antonius Felicien has died, his daughter has been left to pursue paperwork, and she said she feels like she’s fighting an uphill battle.

“I think if I hadn’t said anything about it, and brought it to the news, I don’t think any action would be taken,” she said.

“I don’t think that I’m alone.” 

© 2015 Shaw Media

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