Mixed-gender hospital room upsets 82-year-old female patient

An Edmonton woman believes her mother's health was compromised after she was placed in a room at the Royal Alexandra Hospital with several other men

An Edmonton woman believes the health of her 82-year-old mother was compromised after she was placed in a mixed-gender room at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Kim Michaelson says her mother, who has mobility issues, shared the room with two and sometimes three men, in addition to another female patient, over the past four days.

"My mom is very anxious about it," Michaelson said. "She's not sleeping well at night because she's nervous. She does not have any privacy there and she's not enjoying that at all."

Michaelson was able to get her mother moved to a same-sex room after complaining to Alberta Health Services. 

She also sent an email to Premier Alison Redford as well as contacting CBC News.

Health care advocacy group Friends of Medicare has received several complaints about co-ed rooms, especially from older female patients.

AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson says patients are commonly placed in mixed wards because it can speed up admission, ensuring they get faster care.

"We could have someone sitting in an emergency department waiting room, waiting for a bed in a same-sex room or we could have that patient up in a ward, getting the treatment they need in a co-ed room," he said.

"We tend to go with the second option."

But Michaelson believes that her mother’s health suffered from the stressful situation in the ward.

"Perhaps she would get better care sitting in emergency, I’m not sure," Michaelson said. "But she’s certainly not getting the best care she is in that situation."

Michaelson said she has no complaints with the nursing staff at the hospital who she described as professional and concerned about her mother’s situation.

While her mother was relocated, she worries about what could happen if she has to be admitted again in the future.

"I would like to see some type of policy, something put in place, somebody needs to review this."