The province says it will help cover some costs of a loved one visiting a patient that has been transferred to a hospital far from home.

The province says it will help cover some costs of a loved one visiting a patient that has been transferred to a hospital far from home.

After announcing Friday trip costs won’t be covered for those who’ve already travelled to visit any of the 253 stable hospital patients moved to another region to make room for the seriously ill amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the province changed course later in the day. It said the compensation would be retroactive.

A release Friday said the program would be available in early February, but at a news conference later in the day, Health Minister Audrey Gordon said the “hardship supports” would be available “effective today.”

The details haven’t yet been finalized, but the program will allow for up to eight visits per month by a designated support person, the release said. It will provide financial assistance for meals, transportation and accommodation when a person is moved to a facility outside of their home region for inpatient care.

It will include meal vouchers, so the designated support person can dine with the client when on-site meal service is available. When it isn’t, the province will cover the cost of meals — up to $8 for breakfast, $10 for lunch and $15 for dinner. It will provide transportation assistance of return bus fare or gas expenses and accommodation assistance up to a maximum of $70 per night, plus taxes.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew had said the program should be retroactive — before the province announced it would be.

“Many folks have already incurred these expenses and they should not be left out of consideration at this time,” Kinew told reporters. “These are challenges that families are being forced to confront because of decisions made by the government.

“The government should be there to help — if not to make these families completely whole, they should at least offer them consideration.”

On Friday, Dr. David Matear, health system co-lead with the unified health-sector incident command, said more patient transfers may be required but there is capacity in the health-care system to handle it.

Care teams are trained to provide appropriate, high-quality care for a wide range of patient needs, he said virtually at the news conference with the health minister.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.