Friends of Delta Hospital hosting forum to increase public pressure on Fraser Health

Friends of Delta Hospital is holding a community meeting this Saturday in an effort to increase the pressure on Fraser Health to restore the hospital's surgical program.

The forum is intended to raise public awareness and get more residents on board in the campaign to restore the program that was cut years ago, according to Doug Massey, one of the advocacy group's founders. Last fall, the doctors of the Delta Hospital Medical Staff Association made public their concerns about the hospital's operating rooms closing at 3 p.m., which means those who require urgent procedures after that time must be transferred elsewhere.

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In a letter to Health Minister Terry Lake, the doctors cited several examples of patients being sent away for surgeries the doctors claimed could have easily been performed in Delta. Those patients are not getting timely care, the doctors said.

The doctors have been describing the situation as "a crisis" and that the surgical program is in "imminent danger of imploding" because operating rooms aren't available for emergency surgeries 24 hours a day like at other hospitals.

Last month, Massey attended a Delta council workshop that featured a presentation by Fraser Health officials on future plans for Delta Hospital, which left out any mention of restoring the surgical program.

"They called it Delta Hospital Future Planning and Highlights. It was very disappointing, to say the least," Massey said.

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington said municipalities with over 60,000 people, such as Langley, Port Moody, Maple Ridge and Cowichan, provide the type of care Fraser Health claims Delta does not need.

Friends of Delta Hospital released a "summary document" in December aimed at highlighting the challenges the hospital faces. Issued by Gord Freeborn, Delta's former fire chief, the document notes the communities of Delta and Tsawwassen First Nation want and need a fully functioning community-based hospital that can offer secondary care.

Freeborn and Dr. Robert Shaw of the Delta Hospital Medical Staff Association met last week with Delta North Liberal MLA Scott Hamilton to discuss the issue.

Premier Christy Clark and Lake were to be invited to Saturday's public forum, which is set for 1 p.m. at the Ladner Community Centre.

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