May 19th, 2024

Family facing financial issues after health crisis

By Nikki Jameson on January 19, 2021.

The Nieuwoudt family of Picture Butte is facing significant bills after experiencing an unexpected medical emergency.

Sunny South News
A Picture Butte family is facing significant bills after experiencing an unexpected medical emergency.
Pierre and Sylvia Nieuwoudt and their three children have lived in Picture Butte since October, 2017, when they moved to the area from South Africa thanks to work permits. The family applied to renew their work permits in October, 2019 before they expired, but issues such as the ongoing pandemic meant they are still waiting to hear back on their approval.
While they are currently on implied status — meaning they can work, but aren’t eligible for benefits such as the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) — Pierre experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm Sept. 18, 2020 — which saw him rushed to Lethbridge Hospital before being taken by STARS to Calgary, where he stayed in the Foothills Hospital before eventually being transferred back to the Lethbridge Hospital and then to St. Michael’s Health Centre for physiotherapy, and returning home in November.
As a result of the aneurysm, Pierre has had to learn to walk again and has lost about 60 per cent of his eyesight.
While he and his family are doing good, Pierre is still recovering and cannot work, leaving his wife Sylvia as the sole earner for the household, and the family faces significant medical bills that need to be paid.
“They simply don’t have any access to anything. The only thing they do have is Sylvia’s salary,” said Zantel du Toit, a family friend.
“It was just a horrible situation.”
According to a webpage on health care for temporary residents in Alberta, those under implied status do not qualify for AHCIP coverage, and the family has to pay for any health care needed.
Coverage may be reinstated and backdated to when coverage was cancelled if new documents have been restored or maintained — (it was noted in the remarks area online) — but, this is not guaranteed.
In the meantime, the family has accumulated more than $200,000 in medical bills for Pierre’s treatment, and the family had to stop Pierre’s treatment.
“My son had a severe aneurysm. He wasn’t even supposed to survive that. The doctor said, ‘the specialist said people don’t survive aneurysms like that,’” said Thalana Jacobs, Pierre’s mother, who came to southern Alberta from South Africa to help the family. “This is my son, and he’s not getting the care he needs.”
“He needs medical attention I cannot give him, that nobody else can give him,” Pierre’s mom added.
There’s also the added stress now of what will happen if someone else gets hurts or sick in the family, as they can’t afford treatment — which is something Pierre said, “you don’t really think of before it happens.”
“Physically, we’re good. We’re all happy, we’re all in the house — but obviously, there’s stuff on a level you think about. What if my son or my daughter get hit by a car or something happens? What will happen to my family if we have to go to a hospital?” asked Pierre.
“You would think this isn’t possible, but life can really go wrong.
“We’re in implied status for 18 months, but what can really go wrong? Well, I had an aneurysm, so obviously something can go wrong.”
Pierre expressed great thanks to the community, which rallied around the family to help where needed and ensured the family had a good Christmas. Pierre added he felt, “blessed.”
“We have seen so much support from the community in Picture Butte,” said Pierre. “We’ve had a lot of people in the community help us with food and gifts. I can only say how proud and thankful I am for such a great community I live in. Honestly, they were. I can’t say how great this community has been to me. Everything was just amazing.
“From the schools, the amount of gifts, food — everything we have received. I can’t say how much I appreciate all the help I’ve received. It was just honestly amazing.”
The family is presently pursuing permanent residency. However, due to legal and other issues, the family is focused on getting their work permits renewed.
Pierre noted the family would like to make Canada their permanent home.
Du Toit has launched Facebook and Go Fund Me fundraisers for the family to help with medical bills and every day expenses.
Alberta Health Communications Director Zoë Cooper said generally speaking, “those who are waiting work permit renewal and have implied status are eligible for AHICP coverage. However, circumstances related to immigration and work permits can be complex, and there may be individuals who do not qualify for a temporary extension of their AHCIP coverage.”
“Temporary residents on study or work permits who applied for permit extensions are eligible to extend their AHCIP coverage if they applied for a permit extension prior to the expiration date,” said Cooper.
“This temporary health coverage extension is provided to residents for whom the delay is related to the pandemic. However, cases related to temporary residents on work or study permits can be complex and their legal status to remain in Canada may need to be verified.”

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