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

Young Hope man with autism wants understanding, end to taunts

Brayden Duplessis, Grace 10 student at Hope Secondary, shares his story

New welding equipment for Hope Secondary

More time on welders for Hope high school students, thanks to new gear

Hope teens headed to BC Winter Games

Julius Brysch, 14, and Danielle Bacon, 13, are in Kamloops this weekend

UPDATE: 10-20 cm of snow expected Friday in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning in effect from North Shore mountains out to Hope

Parents cross over painting job on 6 Ave. crosswalks

Crosswalks, not painted since September, are a safety concern for two parents

VIDEO: Mixed bonspiel weekend at Hope Curling Club

The all-weekend tournament is the group’s final event of the season

Concert-goers unfazed by Hedley sexual misconduct allegations

Frontman Jacob Hoggard thanked fans from the ‘bottom of our hearts’ at Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre

Original B.C. Games participant-turned-sensei officiating 39 years later

Langley judo sensei was a competitor at the inaugural B.C. Winter Games 40 years ago

Snowfall warning, travel advisory in effect for Coquihalla

Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt to receive 10 to 20 cm of snow Sunday

Police watchdog probes B.C. man’s taser death in alleged parental child abduction

Independent Investigations Office called in after one male dies

PHOTOS: Harnessing diverse abilities on the court at the B.C. Games

Basketball is one of two Special Olympics events at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

B.C. VIEWS: Our not-so-New Democrats don’t rock the boat

Finance Minister Carole James takes the wheel, steers similar course

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canadians all smiles after record medal haul

Team Canada is taking home a record 29 medals from Pyeongchang – 11 gold, eight silver, 10 bronze

‘All of us should be ashamed’: Calls for change after jury finds Raymond Cormier not guilty

Jury acquitted Raymond Cormier in the death of Tina Fontaine after 11-hour deliberation

Most Read