Elderly Sudbury couple separated by the long-term health system

SUDBURY — A Sudbury family is sharing a heartbreaking story of separation.

Rheal and Bertha Levesque have been married for 68 years, but have been forced to live apart for the past 13 months in separate long-term care facilities.

“Everybody thinks it’s so cruel what is happening to them,” said Lucille Ouellette, the couple’s daughter.

The Levesque family is going public with their parents’ story in the hope they will be reunited.

“They have been together their whole life. They can’t die separate, they have to be together, it’s the human thing to do,” said Ouellette.

“It’s heartbreaking, they were always together. So, we visit them daily, and they are both lonely, they miss each other’s companionship,” said Rick Levesque the couple’s son.

The family contacted their member of provincial parliament, France Gelinas, for help.

“The system is such in Sudbury that only people in crisis ever get to move. Once you are in a long-term care home, they say ‘well you have food and shelter, therefore you are not in crisis,'” said Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas.

Gelinas says right now 36 couples are being forced to live apart in separate long-term care facilities in the Sudbury area.

She also calls the situation heartbreaking.

Officials at the long-term care facility where Rheal Levesque is living say continuing to be able to live together as a couple makes a difference.

“To separate them in their final years is a disservice to them emotionally, physically, mentally. So, having them not be reunited is a detriment to them, and we see their health deteriorate. So, (if) we want healthy seniors, we need to keep them together,” said David Munch, the CEO of Finlandia Village.

The Levesque family says the forced separation is causing their parents’ mental anguish and is affecting their health.

“Dad is lonely, but mom is worse. Like, mom, her dementia is progressive and she is paranoid now. Like she will walk up to the door, she won’t even leave her room, and now she is not eating because she is anxious to come and be with dad,” said Ouellette.

This family says they are not giving up and are hopeful the couple separated by the system will be reunited soon.

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