Fraser Health has taken possession of the Irene Thomas Hospice and the neighbouring Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care.
According to a press release, the health authority took possession of the property adjacent to Delta Hospital on Monday (March 29) after ending the service agreement and lease with the Delta Hospice Society.
Fraser Health gave the society 365-days’ notice that it would terminate the service agreement last year due to the society’s refusal to allow medical assistance in dying at the Irene Thomas Hospice.
“Access to hospice services are fundamental to people,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in press release Wednesday afternoon. “That’s what I hear regularly from people in Delta and across B.C. That is why there is strong support for the decision we have taken. I think this commitment to hospice can and should bring us together as communities.
“Fraser Health’s job, and my job, is to ensure that Delta residents continue to have access to hospice services upon the termination of the contract with DHS, which we continue to be committed to, and are working to make it happen.”
Work is currently underway to reopen the facility, including making needed upgrades and repairs to the building, ensuring appropriate staffing is in place prior to admitting patients, and licensing the building to provide hospice care.
Fraser Health says it expects to reopen hospice beds at the Irene Thomas Hospice by Thursday, April 15.
“We are committed to ensuring people in Delta, and in all of our communities, have access to hospice care when they need it, wrapped with support from their family, friends, and community. I am pleased we will soon be able to reopen the Irene Thomas Hospice to ensure Delta residents can access this important service now and for many years to come,” Fraser Health board chair Jim Sinclair said in a press release.
Wednesday’s announcement did not provide an update regarding the City of Delta’s proposal to take over the lease for the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care.
In a letter to Fraser Health released Feb. 1, Mayor George Harvie proposed the City of Delta lease the centre and then sublease it to the Delta Hospice Society — with the caveat that it first have a new board in place.
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.
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 a press release issued Feb. 6, Fraser Health said it would consider “in the near future” how the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care “supports the broader community,” including discussing with the City of Delta its proposal to take over the centre’s lease.