Riverview mother stuck in hospital because family can't afford accessible renos

Expensive home renovations are keeping Kelly Anne Denton in the Georges Dumont Hospital because she can't afford the cost to make her home wheelchair accessible.

Kelly Anne Denton's family needs $50,000 to make their home wheelchair accessible

Kelly Anne Denton passes the time in the hospital by knitting. She cannot return home until the family makes their house wheelchair accessible. (CBC)

A Riverview woman is stuck waiting in the Dr. Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital Centre because she can't afford the massive cost to make her home wheelchair accessible.

Since being admitted to the hospital on Oct. 1, 2015, Kelly Anne Denton and her family have had to resort to creating a crowdfunding campaign, hoping to raise the estimated $50,000 necessary to expand the home's kitchen, bathroom, doorways and install a wheelchair ramp.

This will help Denton to return home to life with her husband and two children, ages 17 and nine.

"It is excruciating, especially with summer vacation coming, and my kids are home now all the time and you know, I'm not with them."

Denton has a neurological muscle disease confining her to a wheelchair, and for now, a hospital room.

"Being handicapped is incredibly expensive," she said.

"We've already paid for a lot of the medical equipment, which even after insurance pays their part is still thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars."

For example, Denton's motorized wheelchair costs as much as a car. With insurance paying 80 per cent, that still leaves the family left to pay more than $7,000.

Life's emergencies

Christian Denton said having his wife gone for so long weighs heavily on the entire family 1:30

"Going into this, we had no idea how expensive it is to be handicapped," she said.

Denton was working as a teacher before being rushed to the hospital in October.

Her husband, Christian, teaches as well. She thought they would put everything in place to deal with life's emergencies.

"We did all the right things, we have all the insurances, we've paid into all the things that you are supposed to pay into," she said.

"We both have good jobs but you're never really prepared for the blow of not only now are you handicapped and you're not going to walk again but, deal with that on the side while you deal with the fact that it's going to cost you such a huge amount of money just to get through each day now."

Christian Denton said having his wife gone for so long weighs heavily on the entire family.

"You're basically a single dad, trying to do not only all the things a parent does, but then try to provide support at the hospital, at least as much as you can. And still try to help the kids with their stuff and get to the hospital, so it's been very busy," he said.

Need help

Ability New Brunswick's Liane Gould said the cost to keep Denton in hospital could pay for necessary home renovations 1:56

The family applied to the Department of Social Development hoping for help to pay for renovations to their home, but they said they were turned down.

Liane Gould, a rehabilitation counsellor with Ability New Brunswick, said it's not uncommon.

"Unfortunately, we've seen an increased trend in, there's sort of a grey zone for middle-income families who make a bit too much to qualify for provincial subsidies but don't make enough to pay out of pocket for all of their disability related expenses," she said.

She is working with the Denton family, to help them access any programs that will help the family get Denton back home and living in a safe and comfortable environment.

Gould is familiar with the Denton's personal finances, and agrees, there is no way for the family to make their home accessible with the funds they have.

She said she understands that Department of Social Development has budgetary constraints, but she suggests that different way of looking at situations like this could save the province money in the long run.

Middle income families need help

Kelly Anne Denton is stuck in the hospital until her family can find money to make their home accessible 1:04

Gould said she estimates it costs the province at least $1,000 a day for Denton to be hospitalized.

"In the span of three of four weeks, [what] it costs to have her there, that would have her renovations completed," she said.

"And she'd be able to return home to family which would be a more healthy environment for her, for all involved."

The minister of Social Development was not available for an interview when requested by CBC News.

Taking into consideration the size of the family, and the community they live in, Gould said the Department of Social Development could set an income cap of $43,500 for the Denton family. Because they make more than that, the family does not receive financial help.

Gould would like to see the department take into account extra expenses families with disabilities need to pay, when looking at the total income.

"For example … access to public or private transportation costs which would be higher than mine or yours or over the counter medication."

"I know in Kelly Anne's situation, they are lucky enough to purchased private insurance but the 20 per cent they are left with to pay out of pocket is in the tens of thousands of dollars."