HB-No! Woman urges AHS to get a grip on hospital TV costs

A Red Deer woman says she’s appalled at the extra cost of TV for patients at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and wants the system changed.

A Red Deer woman says she’s appalled at the extra cost of TV for patients at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and wants the system changed.

Diane Stewart’s husband, Garry, has been in and out of the hospital for the past two years due to various chronic conditions including congestive heart failure.

“To rent a television for him is $87.94 a week,” she said. “I could not believe the price that they’re asking . . . . A lot of people can’t afford that.”

Stewart said she recently found out TV is free at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary and doesn’t understand why there is regional disparity with the issue.

“I mean it’s all Alberta Health Services . . . It’s really not fair. They have you hostage because what are you going to do? You can’t take your own TV and my husband is in there for eight weeks so it gets pretty boring after a while.”

While Stewart said she understands free TV is not a pressing issue in health care, it is a “simple little thing that might ease the process for people that are in there and their families, if they have a free TV to watch to pass the time,”

The Hospitality Network, a country-wide company, is the television service provider for Red Deer Regional.

On their website, the TV rental rates are stated at $5 for a one-time administration fee, including the headset, $9.25 daily for basic TV and $11.25 daily for premium TV. It’s also stated that prices are subject to change without notice.

The network, established in 1967, provides cable and telephone services to more than 40,000 customers in over 230 hospitals across Canada.

Alberta Health Services says the provision of TV is handled differently at each health-care facility around the province, a “situation left over from the days prior to creation of a provincial system.”

AHS says some facilities offer free TV while others do charge a fee for cost recovery.

“In some instances, hospitals administer their own TV programs, while others use contractors or charitable groups to look after the service. For example, at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre a contracted provider is used to provide the service,” AHS said in an statement to the Red Deer Advocate. “Where there is a charge, the idea is to ensure we cover the cost of the service.”

AHS said it is currently looking at ways to provide the same level of service and cost across the province but has no definitive time line yet as to when this will happen.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

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