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Unexpected bill from seniors facility adds stress for grieving Edmonton area family

The family of an Edmonton-area senior is devastated after being hit with an unexpected bill in the wake of their mother’s death. The family is sharing their story in hopes others won’t find themselves in the same situation.

It was a call on Remembrance Day Connie Brooks will always remember.

“It was the administrator who phoned and said to my older sister, ‘Your mom flooded the room, she left the window open, the pipes froze. It’s all her fault, she’s going to have to pay for it,’” said Connie Brooks, the daughter of 92-year-old Elsie Fuhr.

Brooks said the call came in around noon, and her mom had to leave West Country Hearth lodge by 4 p.m., with administration saying there were no other accommodations.

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Fuhr ended up staying with one of her daughters.

‘She had a fall one day and we ended up taking her to the hospital, and while she was at the hospital she started to have a series of heart attacks and passed away the next morning,” Brooks said.

The family was later left with a roughly $14,000 bill for the repairs to the room.

In a statement to Global News, West Country Hearth pointed to its housing lease agreement signed upon admission, saying in part: “The Resident/s hereby agree to forthwith on demand reimburse West Country Heath for any damage to or the destruction of any of West Country Hearth property due to negligence or incompetency by the Resident or their family members” and that “The Resident/s are responsible for damage to plumbing by freezing, or to floors or walls by rain, if windows are left open.”

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“My insurance covered the contents, but they wouldn’t cover the pipes freezing and the repairs of that because the building is already insured and they are not going to sell insurance for something already insured by another company,” Brooks said.

Ruth Adria with the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society said Fuhr and her family may not have understood or been aware of the damage policy.

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“People who move into lodges are frail, they’re dependent, in some instances perhaps there’s a bit of dementia,” Ruth Adria said.

Brooks hopes sharing her story will bring awareness to others facing a similar situation.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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