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Time is Money, Says Woman Who Sent Hospital $122.50 Bill for Wait Time

May 7, 2015 11:58 AM | The Canadian Press

By Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Time is money, and Leslie Ellins wants a refund for hers…literally.

The financial planner recently wrote a letter to a central Ontario hospital demanding to be reimbursed after waiting an hour and a half for a one-minute cortisone injection.

Ellins says she finds fault with the scheduling practices at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre, adding at least four patients were scheduled to see the same doctor at the same time.

But she says the final straw was being told that the doctor and his staff had taken a lunch break while patients languished in the waiting room.

She says her anger simmered for weeks, but finally boiled over when she received a $25 invoice for a procedure that had previously been offered free of charge.

The Buckhorn, Ont., woman wrote the hospital back with a bill of her own, saying it owed her $122.50 for her wasted time.

Ellins calculated the fee based on her professional hourly rate of $75 minus the charge for the injection, but said the money was only a secondary issue.

“It’s the total lack of courtesy on the part of everybody at the hospital that really angered me,” Ellins said in a telephone interview. “It’s totally disrespectful.”

Ellins said her ordeal took place on April 14 when she showed up for an 11:15 a.m. appointment.

As she sat in the waiting room, she said she observed at least three other people check in for the same time-slot that she thought had been reserved for her.

As time crept by, Ellins said one patient approached the receptionist to ask if he could step out for a quick bite to eat in order to keep his diabetes under control.

She said she was shocked when the receptionist refused his request on the grounds that he might miss his appointment time.

Ellins said she became furious when she then learned that lunch breaks were allowed for some people — namely the doctor and his staff, who had all stepped out for a meal some time around noon.

“When I have clients waiting, I don’t take lunch or I don’t take breaks,” she said. “That just shocked me. That’s sort of what pushed me over the edge.”

When Ellins finally got to see her doctor at 12:45 p.m. and confronted him about the wait time, he told her such issues were all the responsibility of the hospital.

With that in mind, Ellins penned her letter of complaint on May 1 and put it in the mail earlier this week. The Peterborough Regional Health Centre did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ellins said the experience has left her feeling disillusioned with the Canadian health-care system, arguing care providers have lost sight of basic customer service practices and could use a reminder as to who pays their salary.

She also said she’s considering a different approach next time she needs to get a routine injection.

“Give me the needle,” she said. “I’ll ram it in there.”

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