The policy of requiring patients to put down a $1 deposit for wheelchairs at the Castlegar and District Community Health Centre is ostensibly in place to prevent theft.
Diane Gagnon, a community integrated health services administrator for Interior Health (IH), told the Castlegar News last week that the system — which requires people to deposit a loonie in order to release a wheelchair, similar to the way grocery carts are secured in some shopping centre parking lots — is meant to be a theft deterrent.
“We have done this to help ensure precious health care resources are not been wasted replacing stolen items,” Gagnon said, noting that the theft of wheelchairs was costing IH roughly $5,000 a year.
We agree that the health authority should take steps to reduce that cost, but we don’t understand how a $1 deposit could possibly accomplish this goal.
After all, what thief with designs on a costly wheelchair would be dissuaded from stealing one just because he wouldn’t get his loonie back? Even an honest person who makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to take a wheelchair from the hospital for the sake of convenience is unlikely to be motivated to return the device simply to collect the dollar deposit.
Rather than being a deterrent to would-be thieves, the policy has ended up becoming a source of frustration to patients and their loved ones who show up at the hospital not realizing they need to bring spare change along with them if they want to make use of a wheelchair.
It’s good that IH recognized the problem of wheelchair theft in area hospitals but this policy has failed to solve the probelm and simply created a new problem, to boot.
It seems clear that the $1-deposit should be eliminated in favour of a new, more effective theft deterrent.
– Castlegar News