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City of Delta makes pitch to Fraser Health on hospice

City’s goal is to retain the existing staff and volunteers of the hospice supportive care centre
delta hospice update
Delta Mayor George Harvie says the ‘long and difficult chapter in the management of the Delta Hospice’ will soon finally be resolved.

The City of Delta is looking to directly involve itself in the future of the hospice facility in Ladner.

In a letter to Fraser Health Authority board chair Jim Sinclair and health region president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee, released Monday on the City of Delta’s website, Mayor George Harvie said the FHA is in position to soon require that the Irene Thomas Hospice and the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care buildings are vacated by the Delta Hospice Society, and the city supports the termination of the lease.

Noting it’s an important step for continuing hospice services at the location, which would be in a manner that fully complies with provincial legislation, guidelines and policies, Harvie said it’s an opportunity to discuss with the FHA an option for the city to become the lease holder of the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care building.

“Delta would subsequently sublease the building to the Society with a new board in place to ensure harmonization of service delivery by the Hospice consistent with Fraser Health Authority requirements and ensure that this asset remains whole to deliver vital services to the community,” Harvie said in the letter. “In addition to continuity of services, it is our goal to retain the existing staff and volunteers of the supportive care centre that have made the hospice a centre of excellence in this community, to the greatest possible extent.”

In February 2020, Fraser Health provided 365 days' notice to end the service agreement with the society without cause. It’s due to the current society board refusing to offer patients the legal procedure medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

The board had reversed a decision by the previous board to allow it, putting it at odds with the province and FHA, which mandated that publically-funded hospices that don’t have religious affiliations provide it to those who request the procedure.

The health region last month announced, that under the terms of an agreement with the society, on Feb. 25, 2021, it will serve 30 days' notice, a provision contained in its contract with the society, for the DHS to vacate the premises.

Sinclair recently said the DHS, in addition to vacating the 10-bed Irene Thomas Hospice, is expected to also vacate the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care as well.

According to an advertisement in the Optimist’s Jan. 21 edition by the DHS, the society noted it still exists and will continue to be a strong advocate for palliative care, and will also continue to offer supportive care at no cost to patients, family members and caregivers.

The society said it will continue to maintain its hospice volunteer program and will continue to provide grief and loss counselling and support groups for adults, youth and children.

Fraser Health last month also announced that beginning Feb. 25, it will open five hospice beds at Mountain View Manor, a health region-owned and operated long-term care facility located on the Delta Hospital campus of care.

Those beds will increase to the full complement of 10 by mid-April 2021.

Transfers to the Irene Thomas Hospice have been temporarily paused and any person seeking hospice care between now and Feb. 24 will be admitted to another hospice.

The DHS board stated it has urged Fraser Health to work with hospice staff to transition the operations of the Irene Thomas Hospice to Fraser Health so that no transfer of patients will be required due to the transition.

The DHS board also noted it has always insisted the provision of MAiD in a hospice setting is contrary to long-standing principles of palliative care, which does not hasten or postpone death.