'It would kill them': World War vet, wife to be separated by hospital rule

The family of an elderly Nova Scotia couple is fighting to keep them together after a veterans hospital agreed to admit one of them but not the other.

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Harold Cameron, a veteran of the Second World War, has been accepted to a veterans hospital to be treated for Alzheimer’s, but his ailing wife, Virginia, is not allowed to join him there.

Harold Cameron was serving in the Second World War when he met his future wife Virginia. "It was love at first sight for him, and me I guess," Virginia told CTV Atlantic.

When Harold returned home to Canada, Virginia came with him, and the pair have been together for 70 years.

But a decision by the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Hospital in Halifax is threatening to break them apart.

Harold has Alzheimer's and Virginia needs around-the-clock care. But only Harold was accepted for a spot in the hospital, to the disappointment of their family.

"It would kill them to be separated," said the couple's daughter, Pamela Campbell.

"My father is a (Second World War) veteran, my mother has stood by his side all these years -- she moved from England (and) came here as a war bride – that's where they should be," she added, noting that there are "empty

beds" at the hospital.

Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Hospital only admits veterans of the Second World War and the Korean War.

In a statement, The Nova Scotia Health Authority said the hospital does not operate publicly-funded or licensed nursing home beds.

"We would need a licence and funding from the Department of Health and Wellness," a spokesperson said in the statement.

The Cameron family has started an online petition in an effort to change those rules.

"Ideally, we would want our grandparents to be able to stay together in the few years that they have left, but it's also about building some awareness so this doesn’t happen to other people," said Gina Bell, the couple's granddaughter.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine said he hopes the issue of couple separation can be addressed in the near future.

"Couples should be together for the final days and years of their life," said Glavine.

With a report from CTV Atlantic's Kelly Linehan


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