Delta Mayor George Harvie is again reaching out to Fraser Health on behalf of the city to try and secure the lease to the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care.
On Tuesday (May 11), Harvie sent a letter to Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee confirming the city’s interest in exploring options to acquire a head lease for the facility, located on the same property as the Irene Thomas Hospice adjacent to Delta Hospital.
In his letter, Harvie said the city’s intention would be to sublet the building to the Heron Hospice Society of Delta, a new organization formed by a core group of former Delta Hospice Society directors who opposed the board’s anti-MAiD (medical assistance in dying) position and sued the society after the board blocked hundreds of membership applications over the prospective members’ support for allowing MAiD at the hospice, among other complaints.
Harvie said the arrangement would “continue the long history of community-involved support for the provision of comprehensive end of life services at the hospice.”
“As you know, the construction and operation of the hospice and supportive care centre relied heavily on significant donations from the local community and community support, inclusion and volunteer involvement. It is very important that this relationship be maintained, regardless of whether Delta is provided a head lease for the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care,” Harvie wrote.
“Both the Irene Hospice building and the administrative building should continue to support end of life services for Delta residents, consistent with the intent of the many who contributed and supported their formation and operation.”
Fraser Health took possession of the hospice property on March 29 after ending the service agreement and lease with the Delta Hospice Society due to the board’s refusal to allow MAiD at the hospice.
Two and a half weeks later, on April 15, Fraser Health reopened all 10 beds at the hospice after completing needed upgrades and repairs to the building.
The fate of the Centre for Supportive Care, however, remained up in the air.
In late January, Harvie wrote to Lee and Fraser Health board chair Jim Sinclair to ask 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 Delta Hospice Society — with the caveat that it first have a new board in place.
In that 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 — which ran the centre alongside the hospice — 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.
However, restrictions due to COVID-19 put a halt to in-person programming last year, and Fraser Health has not announced any plans for the centre since taking it over in March.
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.