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82 Year Old left with Erroneous Bill from Halton Healthcare After Battling COVID

On March 10 Acton UP received a message from a local resident concerned over an erroneous hospital bill they had received. It seemed the individual, we will call her ‘Martha’ as she wishes to remain anonymous, had experienced a lengthy stay in the Georgetown Hospital recovering from COVID-19 and subsequently received bills from Halton Healthcare for that stay.

Acton UP reached out to Martha to discuss her story. Which it turns out “is really two stories.” She explains, “I would like to commend our wonderful hospital for the care I received from all the Doctors, nurses, therapists etc. at our hospital. I am still overwhelmed at the professional, caring, care that I received. I owe my 82 yr. life to this hospital and its staff. I truly feel that I would never have received this kind of care in a larger hospital. I obviously am very grateful. As a resident, and former business owner, I have lived in Halton Hills for over 50 years.

Martha was diagnosed with COVID 19 on December 31 and was later hospitalized. She spent January 13-March 4 in the hospital’s care. The elderly widow had never spent any length of time in a hospital.

The second story began after she returned home. “I was astounded when I opened the first bill for $385, plus ambulance charges of $45. I mailed a cheque in that amount, even though I questioned the bill for $385.” The charges were listed as “chronic care co-payment”. She explained to Acton UP that she paid the bill because “my care was so wonderful” and she trusted that Halton Healthcare wouldn’t make a mistake.

“The next bill I opened (from Halton Healthcare) was in the amount of $1891.31. Fortunately, I had the good sense to call, and leave a message regarding these charges. I did not get a reply so I called the second time.” These charges were listed as the chronic care co-payment for March.

“A lady by the name of Lori, finally called me back, stating ‘Oh, I guess we made a mistake’.” This response, without apology, led to Martha contacting Acton UP and Mayor Bonnette. Lori offered to rip up the first cheque once received but Martha insisted it be returned. “To avoid another mistake” she says.

“I know we aren’t perfect,” says Martha, “but this is a terrible mistake.” Martha still volunteers with seniors and has seen firsthand how many live on the brink of poverty. “People would pay without question.” She wanted to share her story so that other people don’t fall victim.

Acton UP reached out to several departments at the hospital for comment about why and how often this type of error occurs. Trish Carlton, Director Communications & Public Affairs Halton Healthcare would only respond that “We are sorry that we did not meet this individual’s expectations. Could you please ask this individual to contact our Patient Relations advisor to discuss this matter further.”

Given that there is an email address to contact for refunds listed on the Halton Healthcare billing webpage, I’m guessing this isn’t an isolated case.

Martha, who remains on puffers and medications from her COVID battle, urges us all to “get your COVID shot.”


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