The Fraser Health Authority says it has taken possession of the lands and buildings at the Irene Thomas Hospice site, including the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care and surrounding lands.
This followed formally ending the service agreement and terminating the building lease with the Delta Hospice Society.
“Access to hospice services are fundamental to people,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix in a news release issued Wednesday afternoon (past Delta Optimist's print deadline). “That’s what I hear regularly from people in Delta and across B.C. That is why there is strong support for the decision we have taken. I think this commitment to hospice can and should bring us together as communities. Fraser Health’s job, and my job, is to ensure that Delta residents continue to have access to hospice services upon the termination of the contract with DHS, which we continue to be committed to, and are working to make it happen.”
Fraser Health says that now that it has taken possession of the facility, it is finishing final preparations to resume providing hospice beds at Irene Thomas Hospice. This will meet the commitment Fraser Health made to ensuring hospice beds are available in the Delta community to people who need access to this important service, the health region notes.
“We are committed to ensuring people in Delta, and in all of our communities, have access to hospice care when they need it, wrapped with support from their family, friends, and community. I am pleased we will soon be able to reopen the Irene Thomas Hospice to ensure Delta residents can access this important service now and for many years to come,” said Jim Sinclair, chair of the Fraser Health board of directors.
Fraser Health also says work is underway to reopen the facility including making needed upgrades or repairs to the building, ensuring appropriate staffing is in place prior to admitting patients and the building is licensed to provide hospice care.
The health region says it expects to reopen hospice beds at the Irene Thomas Hospice by April 15.
The current board, which took control of the society after a heated annual general meeting in late 2019, is opposed to providing the legal procedure medical assistance in dying (MAiD) at the Irene Thomas Hospice, reversing a decision by the previous board to allow MAiD.
It put Delta Hospice at odds with Fraser Health, which mandated publicly funded hospices with non-religious affiliations offer the service to those who request it.
Noting the service is available elsewhere, including next door at the Delta Hospital, the current board of the society maintains medically assisted deaths are not part of the society’s mandate or constitution, and that the procedure is at odds of the philosophy and approach of hospice palliative care.
The Optimist has reached out to the current board to see where the society goes from here.
Look for more coverage in print next week (April 8) and online on our website.