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

Fire destroys home in Surrey

Crews called at 3 a.m. Sunday for a residential house fire on the 12000-block of 100 Avenue

Alzheimer’s Society launches helpline

Toll-free phone line available for people with dementia and their caretakers

Art show to be held at White Rock’s Jan’s on the Beach

Art to be displayed until the end of December

New detox centre opens in South Surrey

WhiteRock EHN opened in response to opioid crisis

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

UPDATE: Hells Angels on scene after body found in Maple Ridge

Body was discovered beneath the Golden Ears Bridge

Mountie left with ‘significant’ injuries after driver attempts to flee traffic stop

Richmond RCMP are looking for a dark coloured Mercedes Benz

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Most Read