HOTEL CAPRICORNIA: Hospital bed, $62 a night
A 12 WEEK stay in hospital would be enough to drive even the most unyielding character stir-crazy but having to pay to spend that time in a hospital bed has pushed one elderly couple to their wits' end.
Nola Neilsen has been marooned in the Capricorn Coast Hospital since October 20, 2019 after having her knee replacements removed to fight off an infection.
She was told it would take six to 12 weeks for the infection to clear.
Mrs Neilsen is not able to get out of bed without the help of a nurse.
Her husband, Noel is too unwell himself to look after her at home, so the pair is forced to pay to stay.
Despite the dire situation she faces, the Capricorn Coast Hospital has declared her condition 'non-acute' meaning she will now be required to pay $61.80 a day to stay in the hospital.
Noel was stunned to be handed a bluntly worded leaflet demanding they pay for any further nights in hospital, having assumed all Australian hospital accommodation was free.
"Even though she can not do anything without assistance she has been classed as non-critical care by the Capricorn Hospital and has to pay $61.80 a day to stay in the hospital or go home to an unsafe environment," Noel said.
According to commonwealth legislation, any patient who remains in hospital for more than 35 days and is not the subject of an Acute Care Certificate may be assigned as a 'Nursing Home Type Patient'.
Bernadette Loughnane, executive director of Rockhampton Hospital Business Unit said non-acute patients had the option of supported discharge with services and carer support at home, obtaining respite care or paying the fee.
"It is set by the Commonwealth Government and can apply after 35 days when the doctor determines that acute hospital-level care is no longer required - it is standard across all Queensland public hospitals," she said.
Noel said his wife's infection had cleared but it could be three months before there is an opening to have her knee replacements put back in down in Brisbane.
Over that period, the Neilsens will have spent $5191.2 on hospital accommodation despite having no other choice.
"Every time she has to get up, she needs assistance, and this is apparently too much for the nurses that are paid to do the job so has to be palmed off onto (me)," he said.
"When she is home, I will not be able to leave her on her own to do the shopping or mow the lawn or do anything else out of sight of the bedroom."
"Is this the beginning of the end of free hospitals?"
Noel claims he had spoken to others in the medical profession including his own doctor who told him they had never heard of such a fee.