Separated B.C. seniors now one step closer together, says family
Photo of couple separated by health officials after 62 year of marriage provoked reaction around the world
The family of an elderly husband and wife in British Columbia who were forced to live in separate care homes say the health authority overseeing the couples' care is moving forward with plans to reunite them.
Ashley Bartyik says her family met with Fraser Health and has decided to move her 83-year-old grandfather into a facility in Surrey, B.C., that's closer to his wife of 62 years.
Her grandfather, Wolfram Gottschalk, has dementia and lymphoma and is on a wait list to be transferred into the facility where Anita lives, but they currently live about a half-hour drive apart and cry whenever they see each other.
Bartyik captured their emotions in a photo last week and posted the picture online, where it has been shared thousands of times and made headlines around the world.
The family spoke with representatives from Fraser Health on Monday and Bartyik says they were given a number of options, including moving Wolfram to a facility just blocks from Anita while he waits for a spot to open up in the care home where she lives.
'A huge step'
Bartyik says the move is "a huge step in the right direction" because it will allow Wolfram to get the care he needs while he waits, and that it will make the situation easier for the entire family.
"We are that much closer to having them under one roof! Progress!" she says in an email to The Canadian Press.
Fraser Health spokeswoman Tasleem Juma says in a statement that reunification is a priority for the health authority, but there is always room for improvement.
When the photo of her grandparents made waves online, Bartyik said she hoped it would draw attention to the shortage of publicly funded beds for seniors in B.C.
Now she says the family is happy to hear that Fraser Health is working to help other families who are in similar situations.
Juma says the health authority has had a lot of success in bringing people back together.