There is family outrage and a provincial investigation over the death of an elderly woman who died just two days after health officials separated her from her husband of 70 years.

Fanny Albo and her husband, Al, of Rossland had both been in the acute care unit of Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in nearby Trail.

Last Friday, the 91-year-old Fanny was moved to a long-term care facility in Grand Forks more than an hour's drive away – against the family's wishes.

She died alone just 48 hours later at the Grand Forks facility.

Her son, Jim Albo, says it was obvious that his ailing mother did not have long to live. But his repeated requests that she be allowed to spend her last days near her 97-year-old husband fell on deaf ears.

"There was no compassion from them whatsoever. They were playing a numbers game, and that's the way it was," he said.

"They brought her in on the gurney. They said, 'Say good-bye to your wife.'

"My poor dad never had time to really even hold my mother's hand or to cuddle with her or not even a private moment together, and they turned around and wheeled her out the door. And my poor father just absolutely broke down."

Interior Health Authority CEO Murray Ramsden – who has ordered an internal investigation – says the woman's transfer was ordered under the "first available bed" policy.

"But, however, saying that, there always has to be a clinical judgment in these cases, and we have to be very sensitive to the individual circumstances surrounding this."

Health Minister George Abbott has ordered an investigation to find out why the old couple were not allowed to spend their last days together.

He says there should always be room for common sense and compassion in dealing with these sorts of situations. And he has offered his apologies to the family

"I quite unreservedly apologize on behalf of the province to the family. I think this is a situation that is unacceptable. I am very unhappy with the experience that the family had to go through so I am entirely pleased to apologize to them for this

But the local MLA, New Democrat Katrina Conroy, blames the Campbell government for closing long-term care facilities and transferring patients to newer centres.

She says that simply doesn't work for people in rural B.C. who are faced with travelling long distances over difficult roads to visit loved ones.