Hospitals in the Fraser Health region continue to struggle with high levels of congestion. It's hoped that a shift of elderly patients out to new residential care beds will help.

Fraser cuts hospital beds as care homes open

Health region to shift patients out of hospitals to community care facilities

Fraser Health will close 80 hospital beds across the region this spring as it simultaneously opens up hundreds of new residential care beds and embarks on a long-awaited shift of aging patients out of hospitals and back into local communities.

The strategy has been years in the works and is culminating now as 400 residential beds are set to come on stream across the region.

“This will happen over the next six months,” Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said. “As those residential care beds come available, we’ll be able to move people into them and slowly the reductions will happen.”

Beds will be cut at 10 hospitals – all of them except Delta and Fraser Canyon.

The reductions work out to less than three per cent of Fraser’s 3,000 total hospital acute care beds.

Fraser officials hope the shift into the community will ultimately mean better, more appropriate care for those patients, as well as fewer people clogging hospital beds and less ER congestion.

“What we’re hearing is people want to go home and they want to go back into their communities,” Juma said.

Juma maintained the region will see a net increase in combined residential and acute care beds and a net increase in jobs as more support staff are being deployed for community care.

Ten new hospice beds are also being opened.

The 400 new residential complex care beds opening are split between four projects in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Surrey and White Rock at a cost of $34.5 million to Fraser.

Fraser has long pursued a “home is best” long-range strategy to decongest hospitals but that took on renewed urgency in 2013 when Health Minister Terry Lake ordered a review after the health region repeatedly failed to stay within its budget.

“Care in the community is certainly less expensive than hospital care,” Juma acknowledged. “The long-term benefit is we will see those gains in the future.”

B.C. Nurses Union president Gayle Duteil opposes the plan to close beds, saying hospitals are already heavily congested before the planned shift in resources.

“Last week we saw a record high number of patients waiting for beds in wards,” Duteil said. “Some patients were waiting in the ER for upwards of four hours just to be triaged. That is not safe patient care.”

She questioned whether enough nurses are working in community care to handle the new patients.

Juma agreed hospital emergency departments are busy right now, partly because of higher winter volumes.

“We are going to ensure the support in the community is there before we start reducing those bed numbers.”

Fraser Health’s latest report card shows the region continues to far underperform its targets on how long patients stay in hospital as well as key measures of ER congestion.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants earn a 3-1 victory over Everett in season-opener in Langley

Langley’s major junior hockey team opened the season at home with a victory over the Silvertips.

White Rock rail forum leads to renewed calls for relocation

Upgrading safety is not enough say local politicians

McCallum says Surrey LRT communication plan close to election is ‘perceived interference’

McCallum ‘gravely concerned’ Surrey and TransLink will violate election financing rules, but city says all rules will be followed

White Rock’s Johnston Road to re-open on schedule: city

One lane in each direction expected to open by Friday at 7 p.m.

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read