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Category "Fraser Health"

9Jun

Moms-to-be ‘fearful’ as Chilliwack maternity ward to close for summer

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Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove has requested a meeting with Health Minister Adrian Dix to express his concerns about the temporary closure of Chilliwack Hospital’s maternity ward.


Francis Georgian / PNG

The mayor of Chilliwack is requesting a meeting with B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix to express concerns about a plan to close the maternity ward at Chilliwack Hospital for an indeterminate amount of time starting later this month.

The closure is caused by an “unexpected shortfall in obstetricians,” said Jennifer Wilson, medical director for Chilliwack Hospital. Due to a medical leave, the hospital is no longer able to ensure there is an on-call obstetrician available for emergency interventions and C-sections at all times.

Fraser Health is working on a plan to address the problem, but women who expected to give birth in Chilliwack after June 24 will have to go to Abbotsford Regional Hospital instead, said Wilson. “Our goal is to be up and running again as soon as possible.”

The doctor said the decision to close the maternity ward was not made lightly and she “respects” the concerns of women who are now faced with travelling outside their community to deliver. “We are really committed to making things as safe as possible for women.”

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But Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove said it is “insane” that his community of 100,000 people will not have a maternity ward this summer. On average, there is between one to two births per day at Chilliwack Hospital.

“I understand that it’s difficult (for Fraser Health), but there should have been a plan in place,” he said.

The mayor said he is asking for a meeting with the provincial health minister to discuss the situation. He has also spoken to the mayor of Hope who is worried about the health of women who will have to travel more than an hour — possibly in rush-hour or long-weekend traffic — to reach the hospital in Abbotsford.

“It’s an hour on a good day. What happens if there’s an accident?” asked Popove.

The mayor said he hasn’t been told when Fraser Health plans to reopen the maternity ward. But he has been hearing from families in his community who are worried and anxious.

Former Chilliwack mayor and B.C. Liberal MLA John Les called the closure “a kick in the head” in response to a Chilliwack Progress news story about the closure.

“This is a bloody outrage,” he said in a Facebook post.

“If implemented, this two- to three-month suspension of deliveries will become permanent,” he speculated. “This has been Fraser Health’s dream all along: centralize everything in Abbotsford.”

Wilson said the hospital plans to maintain its maternity ward and is looking for long-term solutions to the staffing problem. It is also working to address transportation concerns from women who may have trouble reaching Abbotsford.

“We have reassurances from Abbotsford … (that) they have the capacity,” she said.

But registered midwife Libby Gregg said the closure is making women “fearful” about their deliveries.

“They are really suffering,” she said, explaining that some women will lose the doctor who has cared for them through their entire pregnancy because the doctor doesn’t have hospital privileges at the Abbotsford hospital.

“These women will be in an unfamiliar situation with people they don’t know,” she said.

Gregg said an increase in stress and anxiety in the late stages of pregnancy and during delivery can have negative impacts on mothers and babies, including a possible increase in inductions and C-sections.

“The implications are huge and far-reaching.”

Gregg said Chilliwack midwives are stepping up to offer their services to women who are scrambling to find a caregiver ahead of the closure, adding “we’re here to support as many families as we can.”

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8May

MRI wait times fall sharply after government boosts scans

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B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says MRI wait times have dropped significantly since the number of scans was ramped up.


Francis Georgian / Postmedia News Files

VICTORIA — Wait times for MRIs across the province have fallen sharply during the past year after government boosted the number of scans, according to provincial data.

The median wait time for an MRI scan in the Northern Health Authority fell 66 per cent between April 2018 and March 2019, with a patient waiting roughly 24 days compared to the prior 71 days.

Vancouver Coastal Health saw wait times drop from 36 to 21 days, a 42-per-cent reduction, and Fraser Health saw a reduction to 48 days from 89 days, a 46-per-cent cut.

“I’m happy with the direction,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This is what we intended to do.”

The data reflects elective or scheduled MRIs. Emergency scans are done immediately.

MRI scan reduction times released May 8, 2019


B.C.’s wait times for elective or scheduled MRIs fell after government expanded exams, according to data released by the Ministry of Health on May 8, 2019.

Ministry of Health/submitted

Last year, B.C. began running 10 of the province’s 33 MRI machines 24 hours a day, seven days a week and bought two privately owned MRI clinics  in the Fraser Valley to expand capacity, at a cost of $11 million (plus an undisclosed amount for the clinics).

Dix announced last week a further expansion of MRI scans in the coming year, but did not have the data to prove wait times had reduced. He said the ministry was compiling the final figures and provided the data publicly Wednesday.

The longest wait times for certain patients — known as the 90th percentile measure — also dropped. Some MRI scans in Fraser Health had taken 346 days last year, but fell to 224 days once government expanded capacity, a reduction of 35 per cent, said Dix.

But that is still not good enough, he said.

“I obviously like the direction, I think we’re getting there,” he said. “We wanted to see everything under 26 weeks, and everything is under 26 weeks, except this.”

The longest wait times in Vancouver Coastal Health fell from 114 days to 99 days, a reduction of 13 per cent, and in Northern Health from 257 days to 55 days, a reduction of 79 per cent.

“The huge difference in the north is obviously significant,” said Dix.

Government is adding another $5.25 million to the MRI budget next year, which Dix said will fund 15,000 additional MRI scans. Dix said the wait times should drop even further.

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2Apr

Another measles case confirmed in the Lower Mainland

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Measles vaccine.


Eric Risberg/AP file photo

Another case of measles has been confirmed in the Lower Mainland, bringing the total number of cases in B.C. to 22, according to the Fraser Health Authority.

Dr. Shovita Padhi, a medical officer with Fraser Health, said the new case is unrelated to an outbreak in Vancouver earlier this year, and was acquired abroad.

Padhi wouldn’t specify where the person was infected, but said with measles cases rising dramatically across the globe, it’s crucial anyone travelling outside Canada ensures they have had two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).

The person used public transit March 27, while they were infectious, and an investigation determined when and where people may have been exposed:

• The No. 323 bus between 8 and 11 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m.

• The Expo Line between 8 and 11 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m.

• Lobby and elevators at 666 Burrard St. in Vancouver and the Ascenda School of Management, at the same location, between 8:55 a.m. and 2:05 p.m.

The 323 bus travels between Newton Exchange and Surrey Central Station.


Transit-users cue to board the No. 323 Coast Mountain bus at the Surrey Central Exchange.

Ric Ernst /

PNG

Padhi urges anyone who may have been exposed to keep an eye out for symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that first develops at the hairline. If they seek medical attention, they should call their doctor’s office first to avoid exposing other people, she added.

Padhi said immunization in the Fraser Health region has improved this year, with public-health units administering 5,768 MMR vaccines since mid-February this year, compared with 2,882 of the vaccines during the same period in 2018.

Two cases of measles were reported by Island Health on March 29 and Interior Health issued two bulletins about possible public exposures in the area of 100 Mile House on March 9 and 22, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Another case was confirmed in the Fraser Valley earlier in March.

Twelve of the 15 cases in Vancouver have been directly linked to an outbreak that began at École Secondaire Jules-Verne and École Rose-Des-Vents, after a student contracted the disease during an overseas family trip. The remaining three cases were acquired while travelling, but not linked to the school outbreak.

Last month, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced $3 million in additional funding for the measles vaccine and a campaign to encourage immunization through the schools, health authorities and media.

-With files from Stephanie Ip and Vaughn Palmer

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9Mar

No place to go for homeless hospital patients after release: advocate

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The Fraser Health Authority says it is investigating after Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove raised concerns about a 76-year-old woman who was discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent by taxi to the Chilliwack Salvation Army shelter, despite mobility and incontinence issues.

On Thursday, the mayor requested a meeting with Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee to discuss “why vulnerable people are being sent to Chilliwack homeless shelters from another community.”

He cited the case of an elderly woman who had no family in Chilliwack, but arrived at the local shelter from the Surrey hospital in early February. Shelter staff were not prepared to care for her medical needs, which included severe incontinence.


Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove has taken issue with a Fraser Health decision to send vulnerable hospital patients to the Chilliwack homeless shelter.

Submitted photo /

PNG

“Constantly cleaning up fecal matter … is a serious concern for both staff and shelter clients,” said Popove in a letter to Lee.

Fraser Health spokesman Dixon Tam said Fraser Health makes “every effort” to find homeless patients a place to go when they are clinically stable and ready to leave the hospital, but “finding suitable housing is a challenge across our region.”

Tam said: “We are committed to continue to work closely with B.C. Housing and our municipal partners to develop more options. At the same time, we need to be careful not to use hospital beds as an alternative to stable housing.”

Abbotsford homeless advocate Jesse Wegenast said he wasn’t surprised to read the Chilliwack mayor’s account in the newspaper, “but only because it’s such a common practice.”

Wegenast’s organization, The 5 and 2 Ministries, opened a winter homeless shelter in Abbotsford on Nov. 1. The next day, he received a call from a Vancouver General Hospital administrator asking if he had space for an 81-year-old patient.

Wegenast said he often says no to accepting patients because the shelter is not open 24 hours and people must leave during the day. He’s had requests to take people with severe mobility issues, as well as those who need help with toileting or washing.

“The people who work at shelters are often very compassionate, and if the hospital says, ‘Well, we’re not keeping them,’ they feel obligated to help,” said Wegenast.


Abbotsford pastor and homeless advocate Jesse Wegenast.

Ward Perrin /

PROVINCE

The pastor said he’s rarely seen people in shelters receive home care or followup care, and it’s also difficult for them to get prescriptions filled.

Wegenast helped a low-income senior on Friday who recently had half of his foot amputated. The man lives in an apartment and was receiving home care to help with dressing changes, but he’d been unable to get antibiotics for five days since being released from hospital.

“When you have people exiting acute care at the hospital and there’s no one to follow that up, it’s bad for that person’s health, and it’s also bad for public health in general,” he said.

Unlike Wegenast, Warren Macintyre was surprised to read about the Chilliwack woman’s situation because it confirmed that the experience he’d had with Fraser Health was not uncommon.

“I really had no idea this kind of thing was going on,” he said.

Three weeks ago, a close family member was admitted to Surrey Memorial after suffering from alcohol withdrawal, said Macintyre. He was placed on life support in the intensive care unit for about 10 days. When he was stable, he planned to enter a treatment program in Abbotsford, but there weren’t any beds available until March 14.

“We were told the plan was to keep him in hospital until then, but I got a call Wednesday telling me he’d been discharged,” said Macintyre.

Surrey Memorial had sent his relative to the treatment centre, where staff repeated they had no space, so he was returned to the hospital. The man, who had been staying at the Maple Ridge Salvation Army before his hospital admission, took a cab to a friend’s house.

His family is hoping he’ll be able to stay sober until he can get into treatment March 14.

“I told the hospital, if he goes back on the booze, he’ll be right back here,” said Macintyre.

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7Mar

Fraser Health rapped: Sent patients to Chilliwack homeless shelter

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The exterior of Surrey Memorial Hospital.


The exterior of Surrey Memorial Hospital.


Arlen Redekop / PNG files

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove is demanding answers from the Fraser Health Authority after a 76-year-old woman with mobility and severe incontinence issues was discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent by taxi to the Chilliwack Salvation Army shelter early last month.

In a letter to Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee, the mayor said he is aware of two cases in which shelter staff were asked to take patients from the Surrey hospital without being told about the care they required.

“A homeless shelter is no place for a person with health concerns or special medical needs,” the mayor said in the letter, which was sent to Fraser Health on Tuesday. “Discharging patients into homeless shelters when they still require some level of care is not an acceptable practice. Homeless shelters provide clients with a cot for the night which is not suitable for a recently discharged patient.”

In his letter, the mayor recounted the case of an elderly woman who arrived from the hospital by taxi on Feb. 2.

“According to the Salvation Army, this elderly individual arrived with a walker and some significant health concerns, including incontinence, and is unable to clean herself,” said Popove. “Shortly after her arrival, it was clear that the Salvation Army would be unable to accommodate her at their shelter due to sanitary and safety concerns.”

The woman was transferred to a temporary shelter without stairs, but “her physical and mental health needs continued to make it impossible for staff to care for her.” She left the shelter on her own and returned to the Salvation Army.

On Feb. 22, the shelter received another call from Fraser Health about a man who was being discharged from Surrey Memorial and needed a bed.

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove.


Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove.

Handout

“After further investigation, they learned that the patient was in a wheelchair, had open wounds on his feet and needed to be in a hospital bed,” said the mayor. “This information was not disclosed by the social worker, and shelter staff realized they would be unable to provide the level of care this individual requires.”

The mayor asked the Fraser Health CEO to answer several questions, including whether hospitals regularly discharge patients into homeless shelters.

“I would like to know why vulnerable people are being sent to Chilliwack homeless shelters from another community,” Popove added. “How is it possible that a 76-year-old woman with multiple significant health concerns could have been discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent via taxi to a homeless shelter in Chilliwack over 70 kilometres away from her home, friends and family?”

Popove asked for a meeting with Lee to discuss the situation and “to ensure this woman is reconnected with her community and proper care.”

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said Fraser Health received the letter late Wednesday and is looking into the mayor’s claims. She could not comment on specific cases, but explained that patients are sometimes discharged from hospital into a shelter when they are “deemed to be medically stable.”

Like someone who is being discharged to a home, Fraser Health ensures community supports are in place for the person, and shelter staff are informed and must agree to the situation, she said.

Juma was unable to say if Fraser Health staff followed this procedure in the two cases mentioned by Popove in his letter.

More to come …

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7Mar

Measles: Latest case located in Fraser Valley, linked to outbreak

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11Dec

Assisted death transfers now declining: B.C. local health authorities

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Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson says VCH does not allow publicly funded facilities to deke out of medical assistance in dying responsibilities unless they have a religious exemption:


Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson says VCH does not allow publicly funded facilities to deke out of medical assistance in dying responsibilities unless they have a religious exemption:

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Local health regions are making significant progress in boosting the number of patients dying in place rather than being moved to facilities to obtain medical assistance in dying.

The Fraser Health region, where palliative care hospices have been especially resistant to providing medical assistance in dying (MAiD) on site because of philosophical opposition, has drastically reduced the number of patients transferred to other facilities on their last day or days of their lives, going from 27 transfers in 2017 and part of 2016 to only six in 2018, according to new data provided by the health authority.

“In each case, we carefully consider how to offer MAiD in the most patient-centred way we can as we strongly support the patient’s right to choose to access these services,” said Fraser Health spokeswoman Jacqueline Blackwell.

It has been one year since Fraser Health told hospices and other care facilities to stop transferring clients out for MAiD services. While some like the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner remain defiant, the latest data on the distressing, disruptive transfers that were occurring with much regularity last year show it is now becoming a more infrequent occurrence.

“We have been able to limit the number of transfers by understanding our patients’ end-of-life wishes and ensuring they receive care in a facility that can support them,” said Blackwell, referring to facilities that receive taxpayer funding.

“We believe hospice care is a critical part of the continuum of care, and we value those who provide this vital service, including the care providers, the volunteers and the administrators. We understand there are controversies surrounding this legal obligation and where and how to implement this. (But) we also respect that individuals and faith-based health care organizations can conscientiously object and not participate in the direct provision of medically assisted deaths, while providing safe and timely transfers for patients for further assessment and discussion of care options, if required.” 

Between the time when MAiD was legalized midway through 2016 to Oct. 31, 2018, 257 medically assisted deaths were provided in Fraser Health. Half of those were conducted in 2018.

While there are still some holdout hospices in the Fraser region, hospices in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region are providing MAiD except for those that are faith-based facilities; from those, 17 patients have been transferred so far this year.

Overall in 2018, there have been 131 provisions of MAiD within Vancouver Coastal, including the 17 affected who wanted it but had to go elsewhere.

Langley-Aldergrove Conservative MP Mark Warawa.


Langley-Aldergrove Conservative MP Mark Warawa.

Adrian Wyld /

Canadian Press files

Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson said the health authority does not allow publicly funded facilities to deke out of MAiD responsibilities unless they have a religious exemption:

“VCH policy, and the B.C.’s health sector generally, respects that individuals and faith-based health care organizations can conscientiously object and not participate in the direct provision of medically assisted deaths while providing safe and timely transfers for patients for further assessment and discussion of care options if required.”

Mark Warawa, Conservative MLA for Langley-Aldergrove, said in an interview that hospices providing palliative care in the Fraser Valley don’t want to offer MAiD because it is inconsistent with their mandate to provide a haven for “a natural death” process and not to hasten death.

He said he believes residential homes and hospitals are the best places to offer MAiD. “This shouldn’t be forced on hospices,” he said, referring to an edict a year ago from Fraser Health that patients should not be transferred out of their last health care setting in order to get MAiD.

Warawa said over the last 18 months, his office staff has tried to reach out to provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix multiple times to discuss the hospice issue. Dix said in an email that he has spoken with Warawa and knows about his beliefs.

Dix said B.C. has been leading the country in end-of-life matters and enabling individuals to “make choices in how they unfold.”

“We are a leader in organ donation. And through B.C.’s Representation Agreement Act, we are a leader in how we set out in our wills our wishes and instructions for key parts of our end-of-life medical care. Ensuring that MAiD can be accessed by patients who meet the stringent criteria puts the onus on us — and our health-care facilities — to ensure patients’ move to this end-of-life choice is free of friction and the additional suffering it causes.”

Warawa said provinces have been given plenty of time to build enough capacity into the health care system for “assisted suicides” and if hospitals and non-denominational facilities don’t have enough resources for MAiD requests, then it may be time to build stand-alone “centres of excellence” for MAiD services.

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