A Port Coquitlam woman says she has been left with no choice but to drive all the way to Kamloops to receive a medical treatment because Vancouver Coastal Health refuses to offer it to her locally.
Jeanette Lacey needed neck surgery 10 years ago, but it left her with chronic, debilitating pain. She eventually found relief through IV Lidocaine infusions.
“The pain becomes so severe that I become a shut-in … This has given me my life back. I’m actually enjoying part of my life.”
At first, she received the treatments in Kamloops where she lived, but she later moved to Port Coquitlam to look after her father. She was then referred to the pain clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital where she had to put her name on the waitlist.
Three years later, without hearing anything from St. Paul’s, Lacey inquired about her status.
They told her she was rejected right from the beginning because she doesn’t live within the Vancouver Coastal Health catchment, meaning she isn’t eligible for the treatment.
Rather than commute 35 minutes to downtown, Lacey has been forced to drive more than three hours to Kamloops every month.
The 62-year-old, who lives on disability payments, says she has spent $20,000 over four years on gas and hotel stays.
“I’m caught between having my treatment or saving my money,” Lacey said.
Mike Farnworth, Port Coquitlam’s NDP MLA, said the response Lacey received was “asinine and unacceptable.”
“On one side of Boundary Road you’re able to get the service, and on the other side of Boundary Road, you’re not able to get the service and the person has to go all the way to Kamloops. It’s just ridiculous,” Farnworth said.
Providence Health Care, which operates St. Paul’s Hospital, says it has no policy to exclude residents of any city but the wait list is one year long. It added patients may be directed elsewhere if it’s in their best interest.
The B.C. Ministry of Health said it was aware of Lacey’s case but would not comment.
“Now I just feel like if I run out of money, I’m not going to get my treatment,” Lacey said. “I’m going to have to move. And my family’s here, I don’t want to have to move away from my family.”