Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk, the grandparents whose story went viral after they were left separated in different care facilities in Metro Vancouver, are being moved closer together.
Their granddaughter, Ashley Bartyik, who fought to have them reunited, says her grandfather is now moving to a facility less than 10 minutes’ drive from his wife.
“We are very excited, as this will allow them to see each other even more frequently, and will help our family in making those reunions easier,” Bartyik told Daily Hive.
Previously the family had been making a 40-minute trip, every other day, to take Anita to visit Wolfram, who suffers from dementia, to make sure he didn’t forget her.
“We hope to get them together as much as we can!” said Bartyik. “From there, he will wait to be moved with my grandmother and is the top of the list for that move.”
It had been reported Wolfram would be moved to Rosemary Heights. However, Bartyik confirmed Wednesday he will be moving to Evergreen Hamlets in Surrey.
“He will be in a private room for the first time, and the facilities are great for his needs,” she said.
Anita continues to reside in Morgan Heights, also in Surrey.
Passionate couple, torn apart
The story of the Gottschalks went global, after Bartyik posted “the saddest photo I have ever taken” on Facebook, showing her grandparents crying on one of their visits.
It was even tweeted out by singer Nick Carter, of Backstreet Boys fame.
— Nick Carter (@nickcarter) August 25, 2016
Speaking at the time, Bartyik told Daily Hive her grandparents are a passionate couple, married for 62 years.
A bricklayer and a homemaker in their younger years, the couple moved to Canada from Germany soon after they got married, and were well known in the community.
Now 83, Wolfram has dementia, and Anita, 81, has mobility and heart issues. Despite that, she continued to look after him in their own home – until this year.
In January, Wolfram’s condition worsened and Fraser Health decided he needed to be placed in a nursing home to receive proper care.
Wolfram was placed temporarily at Yale Road Centre, a transitional facility where seniors who can’t get the care they need at home await permanent placement in a nursing home.
One month later, Anita decided to move to a care home too, and joined the waitlist, requesting that she and Wolfram be placed together somewhere.
No suitable beds became available until July, when Anita finally got the call. She had a spot at Morgan Heights – but there was no room yet for Wolfram. Thinking she wouldn’t have to wait much longer for Wolfram to get a place, she moved in.
But months later, the family were still waiting – and still taking Anita to visit Wolfram every other day.
‘Room for improvement’
Fraser Health says it’s doing everything it can to get the couple together, but the challenge is waiting for a bed to become available.
“We’ve been working with the family and on Monday we met with them and presented them with a number of options,” said Tasleem Juma, senior consultant for public affairs.
“They chose the solution that best fit their needs…This work has been underway for some time.”
Juma says that in the last 19 months, Fraser Health has reunited 92 couples, including another couple on Monday.
“Reunification is a priority for us. But there is always room for improvement.”
“We are working with families with outstanding reunification requests to ensure couples are being brought together as quickly as possible.”
Juma says there are currently 10 couples in the system who are yet to be reunited.
Here’s hoping the Gottschalks are among those fully reunited soon.