Chilliwack MLA John Martin raised the subject of the controversial homeless patient taxi transfer from Surrey to Chilliwack in the B.C. Legislature Thursday.

‘That’s startling’: Horgan reacts to claims of homeless patients being sent to Chilliwack

Health minister says he will look into situation after mayor writes biting letter to Fraser Health

Fallout continues over allegations that homeless patients were discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and shuttled by taxi to Chilliwack shelters.

Premier John Horgan described the allegations from Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove sent to Fraser Health as “startling” during his weekly media availability Thursday in the legislature in Victoria.

“If that is in fact the case, that’s startling for me and I think startling for all British Columbians,” Horgan said.

“Why we brought in a minister of mental health and addictions is so that we didn’t have examples like this, where we find cracks in the system, and those who have potential mental health challenges are left to their own devices.”

READ MORE: Fraser Health asked to explain taxi transfers

Popove’s letter criticized how hospital officials decided to discharge two patients on separate occasions last month and send them to shelters when they still required some level of care. One person was incontinent and the other had open sores on their feet.

“A homeless shelter is no place for a person with health concerns or special medical needs,” Popove said in his letter to Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee, adding Chilliwack struggles with its own ability to house its homeless.

Chilliwack MLA John Martin also broached the topic during question period this week, asking Health Minister Adrian Dix to pledge this would never happen again.

He asked how it could be that “significantly vulnerable” patients like the ones described in the mayor’s letter could be dispatched to a shelter almost 80 kilometres away.

“The great people of Chilliwack do more than their share of heavy lifting on the homeless front,” Martin said. “In short, they punch above their weight.”

Dix said he would follow up on the circumstances. “We have very significantly increased our investment in health care in the last number of years but that doesn’t mean that in every case things are perfect.”

READ MORE: What is Chilliwack doing anyway?

Fraser Health spokesman Dixon Tam confirmed CEO Dr. Lee had reached out to Popove that morning to review his concerns, which are being taken “very seriously” and are “troubling” for everyone.

“When a patient is medically stable and ready to leave the hospital, we make every effort to find them suitable housing if they don’t have a home to return to,” Tam wrote in an email.

“It is very unusual to transition a patient into a different community unless they ask for this, or if it is the only community with housing that meets their needs at the time.”

Hospital beds are reserved for patients with the highest health needs, Tam continued.

“A discharge transition from an emergency room to a shelter would only happen when the patient is deemed medically stable, community services (if needed) have been set up, and if it has been agreed to by the shelter staff.”

Fraser Health is working with BC Housing and municipalites to develop more options, he said, while making sure not to use hospital beds as an alternative to proper housing.

With files from Tom Fletcher


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bachrach nominated by NDP for federal election

The Smithers mayor won on the first ballot with 446 of 797 votes

Bridgeview Marine builds fishing fleet for Queen Charlotte Lodge

Since October, the Prince Rupert-based company has been working on nine vessels for the lodge

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Service honours Marlene Swift’s life and work with North Coast Victims Services

RCMP, Prince Rupert residents attend a ceremony for Swift from inside the Salvation Army on May 23

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read