Ali Davari, a Greater Toronto Area resident, needed two surgeries after falling at a railway station in Cologne. He suffered bleeding in his head and has spent weeks in an ICU in Frankfurt.
The situation, originally reported by Global News in December, has been especially difficult for Davari’s family because the man’s travel insurance provider cancelled his coverage, leaving the family with a hospital bill of almost $100,000 and growing.
RBC Insurance advised the family that it did not consider his application for medical coverage completely accurate and denied responsibility for repaying any costs relating to his hospitalization.
Now that his family has finally arranged a medical evacuation back to Canada, valued at up to $100,000, there is another wrinkle: No Toronto-area hospital is prepared to accept Davari.
No medical evacuation company will transport Davari without the guarantee of a hospital bed in Ontario, which means he remains in Germany at the family’s expense in the meantime.
Davari’s son, Kevin Davari, told Global News his family and the hospital in Germany have been given various reasons why a bed can’t be assured.
“‘We don’t have a bed,’ nothing is available, the postal code doesn’t match where he lives, the list goes on and on,” Kevin said while discussing the responses from hospitals.
Global News contacted three major Toronto hospitals to ask if they could guarantee Davari a bed to allow his family to get their father airlifted home.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre explained its process.
“There are two steps involved from the hospital end. The patient first needs to be accepted by an accepting physician. Once accepted, then the search is on for a bed,” wrote communications advisor Nadia Radovini.
“Insurance companies – or MedEvac, as is likely the case here – would call the home hospital the patient belongs to (according to where the patient lives in the GTA, the closest to home, as most large community hospitals have ICUs that look after ICU patients) and provide information about the patient’s medical condition.”
North York General Hospital was similarly unprepared to commit to accepting Davari.
“The first step is really for the physician currently caring for the patient abroad (or possibly the insurer if they are still involved in any way) to call the hospital directly and ask to speak with the medicine lead on-call (or appropriate sub-specialist related to the care needs) to begin discussions about the patient’s care needs and determine if our hospital is able to provide that care,” said communications director Courtney Sorger.
“Once that is confirmed, then the process to review the potential and next steps for repatriation could begin.”
St. Michael’s Hospital also referred to its internal policy in denying a place for Davari.
“If a patient is out of county and needing care, a physician referral is still needed,” wrote spokesperson Kelly O’Brien when asked if St. Michael’s would agree to accept Davari.
“We suggest the family reach out to their primary care provider in Ontario, who can then liaise with the most appropriate hospital (closest to home being ideal) with the level of care and resources required to care for the patient. Once their family physician is aware of the situation, CritiCall may also have a role to play in supporting the system navigation.”
Kevin said his father’s physician, as well as doctors at the Frankfurt hospital, have tried repeatedly to secure space.
“Please, if somebody has a bit of decency to bring him back here,” said Kevin.
“Toronto has so many hospitals, so many beds, not even one?”
Global News contacted Ontario’s health minister, Dr. Eric Hoskins, to see if he could assist the elder Davari. His press secretary said she did not normally handle casework but offered to pass along information about the case to ministry staff.
Kevin pleaded with Hoskins and hospitals for leadership.
“Secure one bed for him to be here, it doesn’t matter where. Please, this is all I can ask.”