The City of Delta is looking to acquire the lease to the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care building once it is vacated by the Delta Hospice Society (DHS).
In a letter released Monday afternoon addressed to Fraser Health board chair Jim Sinclair and president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee, Mayor George Harvie urged the health authority to “hold firm” in its commitment to terminate the society’s lease of the property containing both the Irene Thomas Hospice and the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care over the board’s refusal to allow medical assistance in dying (MAiD) at the Ladner facility.
“This step is important to move forward with the best chance for continuing hospice services in this location, in a manner that fully complies with provincial legislation, guidelines and policies,” Harvie wrote.
The mayor then asked for the opportunity to discuss the City of Delta becoming the lease holder of the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care building, which the city would subsequently sublease to the society — with the caveat that it first have a new board in place.
According to the Delta Hospice Society’s website, the Centre for Supportive Care provides a co-ordinated source of information, referral, education and support to enhance care to individuals and family in the community, as well as patients and families of the Irene Thomas Hospice. Information, support services, counselling and equipment loans are provided free of charge.
In his letter, Harvie said the arrangement would “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.
“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,” Harvie wrote.
“We are close to seeing this long and difficult chapter in the management of the Delta Hospice finally resolved. Let us work together to ensure that the hospice enjoys a secure and stable future in Delta.”
On Jan. 15, Health Minister Adrian Dix, Sinclair and Lee issued a joint statement saying Fraser Health will will serve the Delta Hospice Society 30 days’ notice to vacate the premises when its lease expires on Feb. 25. The notice to vacate will apply to both the Irene Thomas Hospice and the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care, as both buildings are on the same property adjacent to Delta Hospital and under the same lease.
As part of its transition plan, Fraser Health will open five hospice beds at Mountain View Manor, a Fraser Health-owned and operated long-term care facility located on the Delta Hospital campus, that same day. A further five hospice beds will open at the facility by mid-April.
The health authority also said in order to maintain long-term care capacity in Delta, it is acquiring 59 additional long-term care beds at Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre, a long-term care facility in East Delta.
Despite some media reports of patients being moved early, Fraser Health told Black Press Media on Jan. 16 that residents currently residing at Irene Thomas hospice will continue to stay at the facility and receive the care they need.
The joint statement came a week after the Delta Hospice Society board sent layoff notices to all clinical staff at the hospice.
The board said in a news release Jan. 8 that it deeply regrets “being compelled” to take the action due to Fraser Health cancelling its contract over its refusal to comply with a provincial policy requiring hospices to provide MAiD.
In a public letter dated Jan. 21, the board said it had notified Fraser Health that the society “will evacuate the Irene Thomas Hospice facility by the required date so there will be no disruption in patient care.”
The letter explains hospice employees were given the notices in anticipation of Fraser Health becoming their new employer.
“The society board has urged Fraser Health staff to work with Delta Hospice staff immediately 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 letter states.
“The board is hopeful there will be no disruption in service, no need to transfer patients, and no need to absorb existing employees elsewhere in Fraser Health.”
Moving forward, the board says the society will continue to exist and is remains committed to the purposes described in its constitution.
“The society will continue to be a strong advocate for palliative care and will continue to offer supportive care at no cost to patients, family members and caregivers,” the letter states.
“It will work to fund, at no cost to the health-care system, education and certification for nursing palliative care, comfort measures for patients and complementary therapies.
“It will maintain its hospice volunteer program and will continue to provide grief and loss counselling and support groups for adults, youth, and children who have experienced the tragedy of anticipated or sudden traumatic death.”