Ontario man back home in Toronto rehab centre after being stuck in U.S. hospital

An elderly Toronto man who was stuck in a Florida hospital because his insurance company said there were no beds available back home is now in a rehab hospital in the city’s east end.

Insurance company told Hrabchak's wife no beds were available back home

Todd and Lillian Hrabchak finally arrived in Toronto on Wednesday after Todd was stuck in a Florida hospital for a week due to a lack of beds back home, according to his insurance company. (Submitted)

An elderly Toronto man who was stuck in a Florida hospital because his insurance company said there were no beds available back home is in a rehab hospital in the city's east end.

"That's all I wanted," Todd Hrabchak's wife, Lillian, told CBC Toronto.

"It ought not to have taken this long and my measures," she said, referring to a week-long saga getting her sick husband out of the Englewood Community Hospital, near the couple's winter home in Rotonda West on Florida's west coast.

Last Monday, Todd, 83, was admitted to the hospital with an infected cut on his shin that made it impossible for him to stand or walk.

He arrived with a high fever and was "shaking, shivering and losing his mind," Lillian said on Tuesday.

After receiving treatment his condition improved, but he remained in a "seriously vulnerable state," she said.

'Patients may need to wait'

Lillian had been in daily contact with her insurance provider, Allianz Global Assistance — a third-party administrator for Sun Life — in a desperate attempt to get him home and, preferably, into a Toronto hospital bed.

At the time Allianz said it couldn't find a bed.

"A bed must be available prior to arranging transportation home," Sun Life said in an emailed statement to CBC on Tuesday. "From time-to-time patients may need to wait for a hospital bed to become available."

The company added it "sympathizes with Mr. Hrabchak's situation and is doing everything we can to ensure he receives the quality care required."

Lillian and Todd Hrabchak are seen here in a Florida hospital on March 20. (Submitted)

On Wednesday, the Hrabchaks flew out of Sarasota, and, after arriving in Toronto, went immediately to St. Joseph's Hospital. On Wednesday, Todd was transferred to Providence Healthcare Centre near St. Clair and Warden avenues.

"I am happy to have opened a can of worms regarding this matter," Lillian wrote in a letter to Sun Life, which she shared with CBC Toronto.

"Regardless of my delight at our return home, I must express my dismay with the mishandling of our claim. Todd should have been home days ago."

MPPs speak out

The Hrabchaks' situation, coupled with two other London, Ont., men who a few weeks ago were stuck in hospitals outside of Canada under similar circumstances, has drawn attention from provincial politicians.

Last month, London West New Democrat MPP Peggy Sattler rose up during question period to ask about one of the London men who was stuck in a Mexican hospital for a week.

During question period on Wednesday, Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns mentioned the Hrabchaks, and spoke out about the "crippling hospital overcrowding crisis."

Premier Kathleen Wynne responded, saying "The reality is, there are beds in Ontario … [insurance companies] are not able to work within the system to find those beds."

On Tuesday, Health Minister Helena Jaczek said there "appears to be a gap in the way that travel insurance companies locate hospital beds in Ontario."

"We know that there are beds available for critical care patients in Ontario," she said in a statement to CBC Toronto.

"Travel insurers must work with our health-care system, as patients abroad rely on their due diligence to engage our robust network of hospitals here at home."

Jaczek added she has written to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association asking for a meeting to discuss the recent delays.