Man objects to being put in mixed-gender hospital room

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By Garrett Barry

Special to The Telegram

A 70-year-old C.B.S. man says his stay in a mixed-gender room at the Health Sciences Centre was unacceptable.

Tom Stamp was admitted to the hospital May 29 for hip replacement surgery. After the operation, he  spent three days recovering in a fourth-floor room with three women, he says.

“Disgraceful is what it is,” he said. “Utterly disgraceful. … Your dignity is completely taken away from you.”

Stamp says the hospital room did not provide him or the women with enough privacy during their stay.

“There’s nothing there, only a curtain,” he said. “And you have to be ever mindful (of it). … You’re totally disabled after having a hip replacement. You just can’t reach out and pull it around.”

He said it was impossible to ensure the curtain would be closed at all times, especially when doctors came in to tend to a patient.

Stamp’s wife, Margaret Stamp, said the experience also made her uncomfortable.

“Privacy was at a very minimum. I mean, you knew somebody’s blood pressure, you knew what their temperature was.”

In a written statement to The Tele­gram, Eastern Health spokeswoman Zelda Burt said the policy allows hospitals to prioritize care.

“While it is not an ideal situation for the patients, this practice ensures that patients who need to be admitted get access to a bed as soon as possible when we have reached over-capacity in our emergency departments,” Burt stated. “Eastern Health understands some patients feel this is an inappropriate practice. However, our ultimate objective is to provide quality and safe care to our patients.”

Tom Stamp says it was the first time he had seen a mixed-gender hospital room.

“I’ve been back and forth, you know, visiting friends and relatives down through the years. Nobody ever had this experience.

But Burt told The Telegram the policy has been in place for many years. She also said patients are moved into same-gender rooms as soon as it is possible.

Geographic location: Eastern Health

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Recent comments

  • Mindy
    June 15, 2013 - 09:45

    Why do people have to be so nasty with their comments .... just state YOUR opinion instead of degrading another!!! Make a comment on the story and not the person please.

  • Llewellyn
    June 12, 2013 - 10:07

    I find it interesting how appalled people are at being placed in the same room as a different gender. I'm not saying it's wrong or right, it's just interesting to read as a young man who wouldn't think anything of it.

  • Mike Pearson
    June 11, 2013 - 10:06

    Someone needs to do the math here. Think about it. There should be one and only one mixed gender room . Daaaaaaa

  • Wanda White
    June 10, 2013 - 21:51

    What happened to Eastern Healths policy of ensuring each patient be treated with respect, dignity and care as stated in their brochure on Patient Rights? My God, we are not cattle here! I am 54 and I certainly don't want to be put in with the opposite sex. Do this to your children and see how quickly Childrens Services would be at your door. This is NOTHING SHORT OF ELDER ABUSE AND CATTLE WAREHOUSING. All that's missing is the stable! I'm sure if government officials were hospitalized, that they'd consent to sharing a room with the opposite sex!

  • Health care isn't FREE
    June 10, 2013 - 18:03

    This gentleman is entitled to his opinion and should not be attacked or denigrated for it. He had what was a very uncomfortable experience for him and should be allowed to express this, and in face he's brave to say so going by the nasty responses here. I agree that patients' privacy should be respected and mixed wards are not optimal for patient care. If you never criticize a service, which is not "free" by the way, a race to the bottom as to what people will allow ensues. What would you have the health service take away next? Because they will take more if you encourage them.

  • California Pete from NFLD
    June 10, 2013 - 12:31

    You obviously don't have privacy laws in NL. Also you only get what you pay for in your health system. It sucks.

  • Sheila
    June 10, 2013 - 08:01

    I agree that same gender hospital room are not always possible and sharing with the opposite sex is better than sleeping in the hallway or not getting admitted at all. But give the guy a break he is a senior that was raised in a different time, a time when woman and men not only had separate hospital rooms, in many cases they had whole separate schools. There are more important concerns in Newfoundland healthcare to consider worthy of newspaper time complaints.

  • original townie
    June 10, 2013 - 06:45

    Like he's going to see these women again.....get over it. When you are in recovery and going through so much pain etc., who really cares who is in the next bed? That's the least of your concerns.

  • Dee
    June 09, 2013 - 09:40

    Come on people...let us take a stand here and rebel against this kind of treatment. We deserve to be treated with dignity and should demand it. We are paying more than generous wages to Premier Dunderdale, our Minister of Health and Ms Kominsky to fix this injustice. Money can be found for everything and anything when there is a will to do so. We don't deserve to be abused this way by people we employ. Any person of wealth or fame being hospitalized (I feel sure) would not have to tolerate such indignity. As I said, when there is a will, there is a way. Let's stand united here and refuse to be abused any longer. Premier Dunderdale, Minister of Health and Ms Kominsky please give us back the respect we deserve as your employers. You can and you must do better. I for one don't accept such insubordination!

  • johny
    June 09, 2013 - 08:55

    I guess they should have left him in the hallway then... that or he could rent a suite at the Delta for his recovery, pay for his own round the clock private nurse, doctor, and his own medical equipment. I know if I was down in the emergency room and I was being denied a room because this guy was annoyed by having to share a room with women... I'd be happy to give him a tent, send him out in the park, and take his place. I spent 6 days in emergency once - any room would have been a vast improvement.

  • Alison
    June 09, 2013 - 08:37

    Eastern Health is doing the best that they can with the resources they have. With certain patients needing isolation because of infectious issues or families needing privacy because patients are dying, It is a constant juggling act to keep everybody pleased. Staff take a lot of abuse from families/patients because of this situation. This is the reason that patients are sent home earlier today than before. I suggest that Eastern health advise all patients coming to the hospital that this situation is a possibility and then patients can decide for themselves if this situation is acceptable. Nobody likes this It is unfortunate that staff have to add to the families stress at such a stressful time

  • Offshore Traveler
    June 09, 2013 - 08:13

    1 - Better a mixed gender room than a hallway in Emergency. 2 - If the gentleman was in with a roomful of men, his wife would STILL know their blood pressures, etc. 3 - Men and women are side by side in critical care areas. Do they propose we have a male ICU next to the female ICU? 4 - Don't be so flipping ridiculous.

  • John
    June 09, 2013 - 07:42

    What a baby. We're all human beings, and when we're in the hospital, we're all human beings in need of care, I really fail to see how his dignity is being compromised by being in the same hospital room as women, why would it be so much different if the curtain were open and a man was on the other side. Do women feel the same way? Are most people's ego really that fragile? This just seems silly. Despite the myriad of problem with Eastern Health, we should consider ourselves lucky that we can even get into a hospital room and not have it be a huge financial burden. Maybe this guy should move to the US where he can get (and pay for) a private room. Hospitals are not hotels.

  • Common Sense
    June 09, 2013 - 07:09

    Health Care shoud not be gender based. We can't turning away people or having them wait in hallways with an opening in a mixed gender room. No difference between having opposite gender patients in the room and an endless parade of opposite gender staff and family. Should a mother she can not visit her son in a male room? No difference between an opposite gender straight and a same gender homosexual. Do we ask people's sexual preference? Common sense is needed in the hospital beds like elsewhere in public: close the door/curtain when going to the batroom, don't wear mini-skirts/johnny-coats (use proper PJs), don't let your clothes/sheets rise up or down.

  • Confusing the issues
    June 09, 2013 - 06:27

    “Privacy was at a very minimum. I mean, you knew somebody’s blood pressure, you knew what their temperature was.” But this has more to do with being on a ward than being in a mixed-gender room.

  • Starr
    June 09, 2013 - 04:34

    This is absolutely disgusting, disrespectful and utterly uncaring to do this to an ill person. Definitely not the best aid to recovery. Eastern Health, and the Nfld. government are a total embarassment. No one should be subject to a situation like this. Its a total lack of dignity. I think there should be a petition against it.

  • who cares
    June 08, 2013 - 22:43

    give me a break, with a demand for services and long wait lists I would be glad to get the bed, or have to wait uncomfortably another week or two or a month or two for my surgery just because I did not have male only. if they were all men they would know my blood pressure and temperature too I would bet the women were more worried about their own health than seeing Mr. Stamp in a perfect world yeah, jeepers give everyone a private room , but lets be realistic. speedy recovery Mr. Stamp God Bless recovery is important and you got your surgery that's the main thing, recovery not worrying about this.

  • Bambi Barela
    June 08, 2013 - 20:24

    Insane! A wife or husband have limits to what they can endure in their home never mind when you are very sick, plunk you in strangers, indignant. Your most personal ablutions in front of the same sex is bad enough never mind with the opposite.

  • lloyd
    June 08, 2013 - 20:21

    Are we gone mad. Have Province my A#@

  • Health Care Worker
    June 08, 2013 - 16:47

    Hospitals stays are uncomfortable for all people. Even if you were in another room with other men, you wouldn't have much privacy there either. Hospitals do the best they can given the situation. What you should be thankful for is that you live in a country where you receive excellent health care.... and free I might add. Life could be a lot worse. Hope you heal quickly! :)

  • bayman
    June 08, 2013 - 16:34

    If the objective is to":provide quality and safe care to our patients" then get more beds and staff. Putting them in the same room is not the answer as well as being quite unacceptable.Spend less on administration and more on patient car.

  • Bonnie
    June 08, 2013 - 16:30

    "Privacy was at a very minimum. I mean, you knew somebody’s blood pressure, you knew what their temperature was.” What does gender have to do with this? Nothing! Who cares if the person who hears the nurse say what your temperature is happens to be a man or a woman? Privacy is at a minimum in every hospital when you have patients sharing rooms, no matter what their gender is. People need to stop being paranoid.

    June 08, 2013 - 15:49

    That happened to me a couple of years ago when I was put in special care along with men. I needed special care and I was that sick I could care less who was in the bed beside me or across from me. If you are sick enough any room will do as long as you are getting the care required. Some people will complain about stupid things.

  • joooan crouse
    June 08, 2013 - 15:31

    Sir, that practice has been going on for years in North America , if you are that sick you have to be thankful for a bed, my husband was fortunate enough to have a transplant, a same gender bed was unavailable, what would you rather have a same gender bed or no bed, I rest my case, hope you are doing well, God Bless.