Family seeking community, government help with $300K COVID-19 hospital bill

·3 min read
Narcisa Carranza had to be put into a coma while struggling with COVID-19.  (GoFundMe - image credit)
Narcisa Carranza had to be put into a coma while struggling with COVID-19. (GoFundMe - image credit)

Instead of a large party to celebrate her 60th birthday and wedding anniversary, Narcisa Carranza and her husband celebrated the fact that she was able to eat solid food after weeks in the ICU battling COVID-19.

Carranza's family is struggling after her hospital stay in Saskatoon is costing more than $300,000.

She's visiting on a tourist visa. Carranza had come to Canada to see her grandchildren with plans to return home to the Philippines in January 2020. Then the pandemic hit.

"They're going home last January, but because of the situation even in the Philippines, it's not good. … We don't want to be in this situation," her son-in-law, Protacio (Jhun) Asi said.

The couple had booked a flight home for April 22 of this year. Then in March, Carranza started coughing, vomiting and had a fever. The family called 911, and she was taken to the ICU.

"We're all scared and we don't know what to do," Asi said. "Every time the phone rings anything could happen."

After two weeks on a respirator, she was sedated into a coma. She's now in recovery with her husband by her side to act as a translator. He's sleeping on a foldable recliner beside her bed.

Her daughter Raquel Carranza-Asi said it helps her mom feel better to have him there.

"She's scared," Raquel said. "She doesn't want to stay alone in the room."

Narcisa Carranza had come to Canada to see her grandchildren then the pandemic hit and she was trapped in the country until borders reopened. She ended up catching the virus just before she was set to return to the Philippines.
Narcisa Carranza had come to Canada to see her grandchildren then the pandemic hit and she was trapped in the country until borders reopened. She ended up catching the virus just before she was set to return to the Philippines. (Submitted by Raquel Carranza-Asi)

Carranza has now been in hospital for more than a month. Statistics from the Saskatchewan Health Authority show Carranza's long stay isn't abnormal. More people are being admitted for longer times.

In January, 33 people were admitted into the ICU, compared to 68 from April 1 to 26. As well, in the same time frame, the average stay almost doubled from 8 days in the ICU to 14 days in the ICU.

The amount of patients carrying over month to month went from zero in January to nine in March and as many as 23 at the end of April.

Narcisa is in recovery right now. She's started walking again and eating solid food. The family is waiting on her to regain her strength but she's still on oxygen and she's tired. She's been in hospital for more than a month. The family still doesn't know how they came into contact with the virus.

The family is asking strangers for help financially after the family was hit by the bill. The stay in the hospital is $300,000 but the travel insurance Carranza had is only able to cover $50,000. The family is hoping for community or government help.

"It's more than a mortgage," Asi said. "We're just hoping for the best."

Raquel Carranza-Asi and her mother Narcisa smile in Saskatoon before she caught COVID-19.
Raquel Carranza-Asi and her mother Narcisa smile in Saskatoon before she caught COVID-19. (Submitted by Raqeuql Carranza-Asi)

"Hopefully someone will help us, the government will extend their help," Raquel said.

Asi said sometimes they don't know how they're going to deal with the situation but they're trying to think positive. They've set up a GoFundMe to try and help. Asi said they don't mention the cost to Carranza because they don't want to worry her.

"We try to encourage her not to worry, and she should gain her strength," Raquel said. "That way she can go home because she keeps saying that 'I miss the kids. I miss to go home.' And she wanted to go home as well. ... It's very tough every day."