Health Minister Adrian Dix is finally speaking on the heated evolving Delta Hospice situation and the future of the Irene Thomas Hospice is Ladner.
On Friday morning, in a joint statement with Jim Sinclair, chair of the Fraser Health board, and health region president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee, Dix, who gave the Delta Hospice Society one-year’s notice without cause last February that its funding would cease and it would no longer be permitted to provide palliative care, said it’s important for people at the end of their lives to have peace, comfort and choice related to their own health.
"On May 29, we released a statement about ending the contract with the society. We must support access to hospice, as these services are fundamental to people in B.C. We continue to have strong support for our decision, which was not taken lightly. Moving forward, our commitment to hospice will help strengthen our health system and bring us together as a community,” the statement reads.
"Throughout this process, our goal has been to maintain consistency of services for the individuals and families receiving care at the Irene Thomas Hospice and for the community of Delta. Our preference has always been to keep hospice beds at the Irene Thomas Hospice. On two occasions, Fraser Health proposed to the Society that Fraser Health be permitted to take over hospice operations, to ensure hospice services can continue at that location using existing staff. However, on both occasions, the society was unreceptive to this proposal.”
Noting the hospice is regulated under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and is required to act in accordance with that act, the statement also notes the province and health authority want to ensure Delta residents they can continue to have access to hospice services upon the termination of the contract with DHS.
"Our priority is to ensure patients in the Delta community have access to the health-care services they need, including hospice care. To that end, our transition plan includes opening 10 hospice beds at Mountain View Manor to support patients who would have previously accessed these services at Irene Thomas Hospice. Residents currently residing at Irene Thomas Hospice will continue to stay at the facility and receive the care they need.
"Fraser Health is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure the people of Delta will be able to return to receiving end of life care at the Irene Thomas Hospice. Under the terms of agreement with the Delta Hospice Society, on Feb. 25, 2021, Fraser Health will serve 30 days' notice (contained in Fraser Health's contract with the society) for them to vacate the premises."
Delta Mayor George Harvie said he is pleased the FHA has committed to ensuring the important service remains available.
In a letter Thursday to residents and families of Mountain View Manor, the health region noted the seniors’ facility next to Delta Hospital will soon play an important role in supporting hospice care for the community.
Delta Hospital executive director Cathy Wiebe and Mountain View Manor’s Dr. Rex Long said that beginning Feb. 25, the health region will open five hospice beds at Mountain View Manor.
The beds will increase to 10 beds by mid-April 2021, while hospice patients in Delta will also have access to additional capacity available in neighbouring communities.
“To reduce any disruption for patients through this transition period, transfers to the Irene Thomas Hospice have been temporarily paused. Any person seeking hospice care between January 11 and February 24, 2021 will be admitted to another hospice. For the duration of the notice period, patients currently at the hospice will continue to receive hospice care services with no interruptions in care. As we prepare to provide hospice care at Mountain View Manor, we will temporarily pause new resident admissions to Mountain View Manor,” the letter explained.
“Please rest assured, this care transition will not impact any members of the Mountain View care team, and we will continue to provide high-quality care to all residents at Mountain View Manor.
Issuing layoff notices to employees last week, the current society board continues to refuse to offer the legal procedure medical assistance in dying (MAiD), having reversed a policy approved by the previous board to allow it.
In 2016, the federal government passed legislation permitting MAiD and the FHA approved its policy later that year that mandates hospices that do not have religious affiliations offer the procedure.
In a statement last week, society board president Angelina Ireland said, “A person who wants MAiD can have it at the hospital right next door to us. This is about the B.C. government destroying a sanctuary for dying patients who want the choice to stay in a palliative care facility where MAiD is not offered. They now find their rights to equal choice being revoked. They are being disenfranchised by the very system they pay for.”
Dr. Lee will provide further comments Friday afternoon.