Tragic end to 70-year marriage
Nursing home transfer split couple
Wife, then husband, die within days
Mar. 3, 2006. 08:38 AM
VICTORIA - Al and Fanny Albo were married for almost 70 years, and when they both were admitted to hospital in rural B.C. last month for different medical conditions they nevertheless expected to remain together.
Instead, Fanny, 91, was forcibly removed from her 96-year-old husband in a Trail hospital and shipped more than 100 kilometres along a winding mountain road to a long-term care facility where she died 48 hours later , on Feb. 19.
Yesterday, the Albo family confirmed Al's death, less than two weeks after government bungling led to their last parting.
B.C. Health Minister George Abbott, who cancelled plans for a European trip to deal with the fallout from Fanny's death, yesterday expressed his condolences in the legislature.
"I know this is again a very, very difficult new chapter of their lives that they'll be entering," he said, referring to the Albos' relatives.
"I know (the Albo) qualities of patience, understanding and courage will serve them well as they move forward with their lives."
A government inquiry into Fanny's death yesterday blamed bureaucratic errors and medical misjudgment for the decision to move the frail 91-year-old, needlessly separating her from her husband.
Abbott said he called the family to "apologize unreservedly."
But family members are still upset at the way the two were parted.
Son Jim Albo said after his mother's death that, at the parting, she was rolled into her husband's room and told by staff, who got her name wrong in the process, "Say goodbye to your husband, Mary."
Daughter-in-law Carole Albo said the family is now mourning the loss of two beloved family members, and that they appreciate "everything everybody's done over the last few days," she said.
"It's going to have to hold for a little while now."
Outside the legislature, Abbott said he called the family shortly after hearing of Al's death and told them he and the ministry were there to help if they needed any.
"I feel a great deal of sympathy and empathy for the family," he said.
"It is a very difficult time for people in their lives when they lose a parent.
`` For the Albo family to have to go through what I think was an unfortunate last few days with Fanny Albo was something that I feel very bad about."
The health ministry report said Fanny was a candidate for palliative care, but local health officials chose to move her to Grand Forks without considering placing her in the community's single palliative bed.
Debra McPherson, president of the nurses' union, said government health policies are leading to early death and that the province "has moved into active euthanasia."
"If the health authority just wants to not the spend money on care of seniors, than why don't they just be honest about it, rather than send them to an early death?" she questioned.
Abbott called these comments "irresponsible."