Lori Waltenbury, 29, was taking her aunt for her second chemotherapy treatment when she saw the ad wrapped around the parking gate at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVRHC).
“When you go to park your car there’s this advertisement for this funeral home that’s maybe 50 feet away from the entrance to the hospital and the cancer centre,” Waltenbury said.
“It was very upsetting for all of us, for our whole family. “I feel like it really affects the trust, like the relationship you have with the hospital.”
Waltenbury’s aunt noticed it over a week earlier and Waltenbury said “she was really disheartened” by it.
She and her aunt told several nurses in the hospital on Thursday, but said “no one could see our point. They just thought we were being ridiculous.”
It wasn’t until Waltenbury shared an image of the ad on the gate on Facebook on Thursday — which was shared 11,000 times — and Twitter that she got a response from the hospital.
A hospital communications representative, Donna Danyluk, couldn’t say how long the sign was up before it was removed, but said it was taken down “in 20 minutes” after it was discovered on Facebook.
“It was actually taken down as soon as we caught wind of the information on Facebook and an apology was issued,” she said.
In a Facebook post, the hospital apologized and admitted it was wrong, calling the placement of the ad “insensitive and short-sighted.
“Please allow us to say we’re sorry. Patients are at the centre of everything we do at RVH and this advertisement on a parking lot gate is not in keeping with that commitment.”
Waltenbury, whose father also received cancer treatment at the same hospital said the placement of the ad “really surprised (me) because it’s such a lovely hospital.”
The ad at the centre of the anger was for Adams Funeral Home and Cremation Services, whose owner, Doug Adams, had no idea about the ad’s placement.
“I am extremely sorry that I have offended people,” said Adams in an email to Waltenbury. Adams said he was approached by RVRHC about advertising on the gate arms and that the proceeds would be directed to the foundation to help purchase hospital equipment.
“Having my wife just recently receiving extensive treatment for cancer I felt that this would be a way of supporting the hospital,” Adams said.
“When I agreed to go ahead with the advertising I requested that the signage be placed in the many less conspicuous entrances to the hospital such as the staff parking or volunteer parking. However this request was not honoured.”