The Fraser Health Authority (FHA) has the right to take over operations at Delta Hospice.
That’s what Mayor George Harvie said as he read from a letter at Delta council’s meeting Monday, correspondence that will be sent to Health Minister Adrian Dix and health region CEO Dr. Victoria Lee.
Opposed to offering medical assistance in dying (MAiD), and set to lose its provincial funding Feb. 25, the Delta Hospice Society board last Friday said it had no choice but to issue layoffs to employees at the 10-bed Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner.
Harvie said the lease and service agreement between the FHA and the Delta Hospice Society will terminate, but the health region is entitled to take over the hospice residence to continue hospice and palliative care services.
Delta council urges the FHA to exercise that right, said Harvie.
“We understand that due to the current legal stance of the Delta Hospice Society, there may be a disruption for Delta residents who are seeking access to services at the Irene Thomas Hospice. This would be a very disruptive time for Delta residents who worked so hard and contributed funding that provided Delta their own community-based hospice facility,” Harvie said.
“Should the current Delta Hospice Society cause a disruption in service, we would strongly request the ministry provide interim hospice beds in provincial health care facilities located in Delta in order to allow Delta residents to continue to access critical services in their own community.”
Harvie said the city is imploring the health region to rehire hospice staff laid off by the current board.
“It is incredibly unfortunate that the current Delta Hospice Society Board is determined to sabotage opportunities for Delta residents to have hospice services in their community. It is vital that steps be taken to ensure that special interest groups do not have the ability to remove beds from our community hospice facility ever again,” he added.
He said the city wants to see a new administrative model for the facility and is also imploring the province to preserve all assets and equipment.
Delta residents are also encouraged to contact Dix directly to express their concerns, he added.
In a news release to society membership last Friday, the current society board stated: "it regrets taking the layoff action."
“Fraser Health is about to evict us and expropriate approximately $15 million of our assets simply because we decline to euthanize our patients at our 10-bed Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner, B.C.," the news release stated. "To be clear, we accept that the provision of MAiD is an elective, legal service across Canada. Nothing in Canadian law, however, requires medically assisted death to be made available everywhere, at all times, to everyone. The Constitution of our private Society and our commitment to palliative care, bars us from offering it. Neither the board of the DHS, nor the vast majority of our patients and members want to change that."
A spokesperson with Fraser Health noted they are working on a transition plan and will have more information soon.
The health region added that it has made “repeated efforts” to work with the current society leadership, but has been unsuccessful.