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New Glasgow man frustrated by service fee increase

Francis Dorrington, showing letter he received saying that the cost of foot services provided by the VON would be increasing.
Francis Dorrington, showing letter he received saying that the cost of foot services provided by the VON would be increasing. - Sam Macdonald


Francis Dorrington was troubled, to say the least, when notified by the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) that the foot care services he and his wife receive would see a sharp increase in cost.
Earlier this month, the past member of New Glasgow town council told The News he received a letter stating that the cost of foot care services from VON would jump from $30 to $45 for each visit.

“I you see a 50 per cent increase in something, that’s hurting people who can’t afford to do much. Something there is radically wrong,” said Dorrington. “Most people who get this service are on pensions, and when you add 50 per cent to what someone on a pension is paying, that puts a big hole in the money they’ve got to deal with.”
Dorrington emphasized how troubling it was to him, noting that he asked a nurse if the increase in cost would result in a bump in her own pay, to which she said no.
“It’s not a good way to do business,” said Dorrington. “People who get this service are seniors or handicapped – pensioned people who can’t afford some kind of big increase, since we don’t see those kinds of increases in our pensions. How many people go there every day?”

Dorrington said that he was frustrated not only by the increase, but the awkward way it was communicated, and stated that he felt the entire thing was unjust. “I’m maybe old, but I’m not cold. There’s a fire inside of me to make sure everyone is doing right. Who is going to challenge this? That’s what I asked myself.”

Carol Curley, regional executive director of the Eastern Zone for the Victorian Order of Nurses in Pictou County, said there is a reason for the increase in fees for the service which is part of the charitable division of the VON.
“From a historical perspective, we haven’t had a change in fees in Pictou County in quite some time. While I appreciate that it is a significant jump all at once, there hasn’t been an increase for quite some time,” said Curley.

The logic behind the increase is that VON is nationally accredited, Curley said, and seeks to follow best practice standards, part of which is making sure the program is financially sustainable.

“Our goal is to is to be financially balanced in that program, and for it to be sustainable for years to come,” said Curley. “We came to a point in time where we needed to take a leap – and we had to put our rate at a place that allowed us to do that.”

Curley emphasize that VON members are eager to chat with their clientele about the change, adding, “We understand that from a client perspective, everyone comes from a different place, and this can be a significant impact.

“We have strategies to make it as little an impact as possible to them.”

Another issue Dorrington had with the fee increase: not only was it abrupt – but it changed twice.

“They gave us a note that said it would increase to $45, and then this Monday morning, I got a call from VON, and they said … it’s not going to be $45, it’s going to be $40 from now on,” said Dorrington. “Someone else contacted them about that, and they changed it.”
Dorrington expressed concern about the VON business model, given the mix-up and the sudden changing of rates.

“That jump was actually an error,” admitted Curley, who explained that the increase was originally an amount between $40 and $45.

After determining the clinic costs for the particular situation in Pictou County – a process that takes into account how many clinics are in the area – Curley said VON eventually determined the best rate would be $40. In error, it was written in the letter to customers that the amount was to increase to $45.

“There was some feedback,” said Curley. “The manager got that feedback, from the communiqué to the clients, and to make sure the clients felt they were heard, we reduced that rate. We knew there was an error, and the intent was to (increase the cost of foot care service) to $40.”

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