Officials are separating an elderly Canadian couple for the first time in 73 years just days before Christmas.
Herbert and Audrey Goodine were separated by health officials after an assessment of Herbert's health found that the 91-year-old's dementia required a higher level of care than the couple's current facility could provide, according to the Toronto Star. The couple has been married for 69 years.
The pair were made to part ways on Dec. 18, just a few days before Christmas. Herbert was taken to a care residence about 45 minutes from the Victoria Villa Special Care Home in New Brunswick, where he had spent the last three years sharing a room and bed with his wife, who is 89.
The couple's daughter, Dianne Phillips, said that she only learned her father would need to be relocated on Dec. 15.
Phillips criticized the health officials' decision and its timing in a Facebook post explaining the family's situation.
"I read this message [about the separation] over several times in disbelief of how can anyone be so cold and cruel to do this a week prior to Christmas," wrote Phillips. "My request during the day Friday was to simply extend my father's residency until the end of this week. However, my repeated request was ignored."
"Because I was unwilling to make a decision on his new location within a few hours a representative from Social Development and a representative from the Victoria Villa approached my parents and forced them to make the decision on their own," Phillips added.
"I feel people need to know what a flawed system we have in place," she added. "Two words describe it 'unethical and cruel.'"
Phillips said she understands that Herbert needs more care than the current facility can provide, but argued that officials could have waited until after Christmas to separate her parents.
Victoria Villa's Jennifer Eagan said that while she couldn't comment on the specific case, Victoria Villa is intended for Level 2 residents who need a lower amount of supervision.
According to Phillips, her mother has been assessed as Level 2, while her father was assessed as Level 3.
While Audrey and Herbert will reportedly be together at Phillips' home for Christmas, the daughter noted the stress the change has caused to her elderly parents.
"When talking to my parents yesterday I listened to my mother weep and I could hear my father in the background," wrote Phillips in her post. "My mother said 'Christmas is over for us now and this is the worst Christmas that we will ever have. Why could they not have waited till after the holidays.'"
"I assured her that I tried everything to keep them together a few more days," added Phillips.
"This should never take place to another human again," Phillips said.