Man objects to being put in mixed-gender hospital room

Published on June 8, 2013

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.

garrett.barry@thetelegram.com