Oshawa, Ont. patient’s family calls for better post-stroke treatment coverage

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WATCH: An Oshawa family is being forced to dig into their retirement savings to cover their son's post-stroke care. Aaron Streck reports. – Dec 13, 2019

An Oshawa family is being forced to dig into their retirement savings to cover their son’s post-stroke care.

The family was in conversation with the province regarding coverage, but they have yet to receive any assistance.

“I do all the physiotherapy with Dan, I set him up on the machines,” said Richard Gingras, Dan’s father and caregiver.

“We can’t afford a personal trainer.”

Dan Gingras has come a long way since suffering a stroke six years ago. After being told he wouldn’t walk again, Dan is heading toward those first steps.

The 32-year-old is at the gym five days a week with his dad.

“He’s using both legs, he’s now able to pull himself out of the chair with a bit of assistance from his right hand and stand. He can do squats,” said Richard Gingras.

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READ MORE: Oversleeping can increase your risk of stroke by up to 85 per cent, study says

Getting there, however, isn’t cheap. His physiotherapy costs about $14,000 a year.

“I’m cashing in everything I’ve worked for my whole life to provide for my son that I feel OHIP should be covering. They should be covering his physiotherapy,” said Richard.

Two-and-a-half years ago, the Gingras family met with then-health minister Eric Hoskins.

Richard says nothing has been done since they met, and says Bill 9 has failed them.

Passed in 2016, Bill 9 requires the Ontario government to implement evidence-based treatments for those in need of post-stroke physiotherapy.

“The ministry is not involved in individual medical treatment decisions nor can the ministry make referrals to specific health care providers,” the health ministry said in a statement to Global News.

“We would therefore encourage the patient to raise their concerns with the clinical care team and to work with them to inquire about the referral to Lakeridge Health.”

Richard says he expects more from the province.

He says they’ve been in talks with Lakeridge Health about therapy in the past couple years, but have been turned away because Dan’s injury isn’t new.

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Global News reached out to Lakeridge Health for comment but they didn’t respond before deadline.

“We live in Ontario; we have one of the best health-care systems in the world. They should be providing us OHIP-funded therapy and, at the very least, an assessment to assess Dan to see where he is and what physio he’s entitled to,” Richard said.

READ MORE: Post-stroke recovery patients confront Ontario health minister over need for treatment

Jim McEwen has been fighting the same fight for nine years. He had a stroke at 55 and doesn’t want Dan to hit the same roadblocks.

“It’s too late for me,” said McEwen, part of the Durham Region Stroke Recovery Group.

“I’m going to be 65 next year and they say I qualify for more stroke treatment. Look, my left arm is dead, it’s not coming back. So let’s concentrate on young adults like Dan and he can benefit from the stroke treatment now.

“I’ll gladly give up my stroke treatment next year if Dan can have it.”

Richard says he has contacted more than 100 OHIP-funded clinics that don’t have the equipment Dan needs.

He’s hoping the situation for all young post-stroke patients changes in the new year.