Senior went to hospital for medical procedure, left with broken front tooth and $1K dental bill

Betty Clark, 83, says she never expected she would leave Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital with a $1,024 dentist bill after a procedure last May.

Betty Clark wants the WRHA to pay a $1,024 dentist bill after her tooth was damaged in hospital

Betty Clark, 83, entered St. Boniface Hospital in May. During her procedure a front tooth was broken and she has been fighting with the WRHA to pay for the dental costs ever since. (Google Street View)

Betty Clark, 83, says she never expected she would leave Winnipeg's St. Boniface Hospital with a $1,024 dentist bill after a procedure last May.

Health workers inserted tubes down Clark's throat for an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to examine her bile duct on May 27, 2015. Right after the procedure, Clark said she realized a front tooth was damaged.

"After I got into the recovery recovery room, something felt funny and I went and looked in the mirror and [a tooth] had been broken right in half," Clark said, adding she had recently seen her dentist and not one of her teeth was found to be loose or at risk of cracking.

Dental work like the kind Clark needed is not covered by Manitoba Health and could not be resolved in the hospital, she said. A nurse told Clark to contact the Patient Relations Office at St. Boniface Hospital, which referred her to contact the WRHA. 

"I did write a letter to whom she directed me to with the [WRHA] and I never heard a thing back from them," said Clark.

Months passed and Clark got a letter from an adjusting company who said they would resolve Clark's claim for her broken tooth within six weeks. Clark said she waited 11 and still did not hear back.

"I finally phoned and left a couple of messages," said Clark.

More than five months after her tooth was broken, Clark received a call from the adjuster who promised to have an answer soon but he too never called back, said Clark. To-date Clark's file remains in limbo.

In early November, she gave up waiting for money and paid out-of-pocket to repair the tooth.

"I was fed up looking like Ma Kettle," she said.

"I put it on my credit card and praying that this will be resolved before the next bill comes in."

WRHA: an unfortunate situation

"We definitely believe this is an unfortunate situation," said Lanette Siragusa is director of surgery at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

"I can understand the time frame maybe isn't as speedy as she would like, for sure, but we would encourage everyone who has a complaint or a compliment to be contacting the patient relations office either at the site or the WRHA," said Siragusa.

For Clark, that would mean returning to the first stage of her process.

"It's frustrating, it's annoying… it's just not fair and it's just not right," said Clark.

The WRHA has heard the concerns in this case, said Siragusa.

"We will look at our processes and see how we can do better."


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