Ronnie Morris may be known to Toronto indie music fans as the bassist in bands like Controller.Controller and Lioness, but the Canadian musician is now gaining attention for his recent medical woes — and the Ontario healthcare policies that may not cover his rehabilitation.
Last month, 37-year-old Morris suffered two consecutive strokes, which required two life-saving surgeries and has resulted in ongoing paralysis, pain and an inability to speak.
In addition to his musical work, Morris was teaching part time at Toronto's York University, whilst completing his PhD. He doesn't have health insurance, and health officials have warned his family that the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) will likely cover only a small percentage of the rehab costs, due to funding restrictions for patients between the ages of 20 and 64.
The issue was raised by Conservative MPP Christine Elliott at Queen's Park last year, following 55-year-old Jim McEwen's stroke and ensuing out-of-pocket treatment payment. She called it "a question of discrimination," insisting that people between 20 and 64 were not getting the services they required.
While the Health Ministry is currently studying the issue, Morris's family estimates that the uncovered rehabilitation costs could total over $200,000. They've launched a website offering updates on Morris's condition, and have set up an online donation system for anyone who would like to contribute money to his cause.
Last week, Controller.Controller released the following message via Facebook:
Almost a month ago, our bassist — our friend and brother — Ronnie Morris, was unexpectedly hospitalized after suffering two major strokes that involved a double dissection and brain bleed. Since then, Ronnie has undergone two life-saving surgeries. We are thankful to report that he is on the road to recovery.
However, this recovery will take months, perhaps even years. Much of his health coverage will not extend past his treatment in the hospital. Without long-term health care, the costs that he will incur as he regains his strength and his quality of life might total over $200,000.
Some of his loved ones have taken the time to put together a website where you can learn more about Ronnie and what has happened to him: http://www.ronniemorrisrecovery.com.
If you would like to help, you can visit this site and send Ronnie a message of encouragement ("Get in Touch"). If you are able to do so, please also donate via the site to the fund that will go towards the expense of Ronnie's rehabilitation. Every contribution will count and will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your love and support,
Colwyn, Jeff, Nirmala and Scott
Morris is currently in recovery at a hospital in Brampton. In the player below, watch an interview with Morris's family that aired on CBC last night (May 28).