No ride home, no kidney stone surgery, Ottawa man told

A military veteran suffering from a painful kidney stone had his surgery at an Ottawa hospital abruptly cancelled last month when a doctor discovered he didn't have a ride home.

Viktor Velichkin's kidney stone surgery at General abruptly cancelled last month

Canadian military veteran Viktor Velichkin's Sept. 22 surgery to remove a kidney stone was called off when the surgeon at the General campus of the Ottawa Hospital found out he was planning to take a taxi home following the operation. (Stu Mills/CBC)

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  • The surgery date was rescheduled for Oct. 3 and Velichkin now has a chaperone.

A military veteran suffering from a painful kidney stone had his surgery at an Ottawa hospital abruptly cancelled last month when a doctor discovered he didn't have a ride home.

Viktor Velichkin, 54, told hospital staff before he was admitted on Sept. 22 that he planned to take a taxi home after the day surgery.

After they discharge me, it's my business where I'm going.- Viktor Velichkin

"Logically, after they discharge me, it's my business where I'm going," the former Canadian Forces member said.

But a surgeon at the General campus of the Ottawa Hospital took a different view.

Velichkin, who lives alone, said he was given a hospital gown and an ID bracelet. When a nurse asked how he was planning to get home after the operation, he explained that he hadn't been able to arrange a return ride and planned to take a taxi.

In considerable discomfort

When the surgeon learned that, Velichkin's surgery was abruptly cancelled and he returned home with a 10-millimetre stone still lodged in his ureter, the duct that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.

Velichkin said he's in considerable discomfort, especially since painkillers prescribed by his own doctor ran out before his scheduled surgery date. 

A spokesperson for the Ottawa Hospital said its policy doesn't permit patients who are recovering from the effects of anesthesia to return home unassisted, even if the surgery doesn't require post-operative care.

Sometimes patients are admitted overnight, but only if they make arrangements prior to the date of their surgery, the spokesperson said.

'It's like an ultimatum'

There are volunteer groups who will transport cancer patients, but there are no comparable services for people needing transportation following day surgeries such as kidney stone removal.

Velichkin, who was born and raised in the former Soviet Union, said the inflexibility of the hospital staff reminded him of attitudes he encountered as a young man.

"It's like an ultimatum, like in the Soviet Union. You do what we tell you, or it's Siberia!" he said.

Velichkin said the hospital should provide transportation home for patients who rely on taxis to get around. He said he hopes to reschedule his surgery for this week, but still faces the problem of how to get home afterward.

Veteran Affairs contacts hospital

Veterans Affairs Canada said in a statement it has an emergency trust fund to provide financial assistance in emergency situations, including transportation.

While the federal department said it can't comment on a specific veteran's case, it has reached out to the Ottawa Hospital.

"The Department has reached out to the hospital to let them know that if they come across a similar situation in the future, they can reach out to VAC and we'll do our best to support the veteran, or put them in touch with one of our partners," the statement read.