AMHERST, N.S. – Christine Arsenault accepts that her son has not led an exemplary life, but she doesn’t feel he deserves to be left alone in a coma in an Alberta hospital.
Dylan Gogan, 28, was savagely beaten by three other inmates at an Alberta remand centre just days after being charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault following an alleged stabbing incident in Grande Prairie on March 6.
His mother is heart-broken that neither this province nor Alberta are doing much to bring him back to Nova Scotia.
“There’s no one there for him. He’s all by himself out there and I’m here and can’t do anything to help him,” Arsenault told the Amherst News on Monday.
The Chignecto woman said her son was found bloodied and unresponsive in his cell by corrections staff soon after the incident and airlifted to Edmonton where he remains a patient at the University of Alberta hospital.
Gogan suffered an axonal brain injury and will probably require around the clock care for the rest of his life.
Arsenault, who was out to visit him several weeks ago, has been working to get him transferred back to his native Nova Scotia, but because he hasn’t lived here in several years the province doesn’t seem willing to fly him back to a hospital closer to Amherst
“When I first got out there to see him everyone was saying how they were preparing him to be transferred to a hospital in Nova Scotia, but they suddenly went quiet and I couldn’t get any answers,” she said. “They said he didn’t have any health coverage at all and because he was overage and in another province, I couldn’t get power of attorney. All I seem to be getting now are roadblocks.”
She said officials in Nova Scotia told her they could do nothing for Dylan because he isn’t a permanent resident of the province. If he had an active Nova Scotia health card, he would have qualified for an inter-hospital transfer from Edmonton to a Nova Scotia hospital via air ambulance. But, because he has spent much of his adult life incarcerated in jail, prison or half-way houses outside the province he doesn’t qualify for coverage in Nova Scotia.
“He’s been in trouble all his life, but he’s still a person. He’s my son and I still love him no matter what. All I want is for him to be brought home,” Arsenault said.
And because he had only returned to Alberta shortly before the incident, that province at first said he didn’t qualify for an Alberta health card. He has since qualified for an Alberta card, but he’s no closer to being repatriated to Nova Scotia.
She spoke to a social worker at the hospital in Edmonton and was told she could pay to have him transferred.
“I would have to find $71,000 to move him and I don’t have that kind or money or the means to take out a loan for that amount,” she said. “It’s extremely hard because all the way out there and he’s all alone.”
Because of his medical condition the charges against him have been dropped while the three inmates charged with his beating are going through the Alberta justice system.
Tracy Barron from Health and Wellness said she can’t talk about Gogan’s case specifically, but is able to comment on how the process works.
“We appreciate the desire of the mother to have her child near, but to be eligible for insured health services in Nova Scotia, an individual needs to be a permanent resident of the province,” Barron said in an email to the Amherst News. “Individuals wanting to transfer to Nova Scotia from another province to receive care are covered for medically-required insured hospital and physician services by their home province under interprovincial agreements (in this case Alberta), until such time as they are eligible for insured health services in Nova Scotia.”
Barron said individuals wishing to establish permanent residency in Nova Scotia from elsewhere in Canada become eligible for insured health services on the first day of the third month of their arrival.
Individuals would be responsible for any ancillary costs (such as ambulance services or pharmacare) until such time as they are eligible for coverage as a permanent resident. Travel costs associated with such a move would not be covered.