Reverse decision on rehab closure in Chilliwack urged residents

A crowd of 80 people attended a town hall meeting to voice concerns about the closure of the rehab unit at Chilliwack General Hospital.

Chilliwack was urged at a Tuesday night “town hall” meeting to push back against the pending closure of the rehab unit at Chilliwack General Hospital.

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O’Mahony, who organized the meeting, gamely vowed to carry a call to cancel the closure until all the community’s concerns are addressed to Health Minister Mike de Jong.

But the end of in-hospital rehab services in Chilliwack — which was deemed important enough by the Fraser Health Authority to open the $2.5-million unit six years ago — seems final.

Scott Brolin, the FHA’s director of rehabilitation services, told the Tuesday audience of about 80 that it’s expected no new patients will be admitted to the unit after the end of August.

He agreed the plan to replace the unit with out-patient services and to send patients needing in-hospital rehab to Abbotsford “did not roll out” as intended, but the FHA is committed to closing any service gaps for patients before the change is final, he said.

However, it seems questionable that home care support services in Chilliwack, one of the main concerns raised at the meeting, can be beefed up in that time.

O’Mahony, NDP skills training critic, moderated a panel at that meeting that included Bonnie Pearson, secretary/business manager at the Hospital Employees Union, Allan Hunt, president of the Chilliwack & District Seniors Resource Society, Reid Johnson, president of the Health Sciences Association, John Simpson, a volunteer with the Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association and Brolin.

Dr. Ralph Jones, lead physician of the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice, a non-profit society representing family physicians, also took part in the panel discussion.

He did not criticize the quality of home care support in Chilliwack, but did suggest the system needs a “redesign” to ensure all patient needs, including transportation and motivation, are looked after when patients return home from hospital.

The FHA insists that rehab patients will have better health outcomes by returning home, rather than staying in the hospital unit.

Pearson agreed, but only if there are home support services in place.

“Home is best when it makes sense and can be supported,” she said, but it is a “hollow” program if the government does not provide the funding.

Johnson said home care and home support in Chilliwack “needs additional money.”

The BC Liberal government earmarked $135 million in its last budget as an “incentive for builders and developers,” he said. “That money could have gone to home support.”

He said the FHA is under pressure “imposed by the BC government”  to cut costs, “but sometimes the best economic decision … is not the best health decision for an individual or a community.”

“Your community needs to decide if there’s more you want to do about it,” he said, adding that the community has a “right to consultation” just like union workers at the hospital.

“We were informed of this decision, (but) we had no opportunity to influence the decision,” he said.

The opportunity to influence a decision is key to the definition of consultation, which the FHA did not do with hospital doctors, municipal leaders, or the community at large.

Why that consultation never took place has never been clearly answered.

Brolin tried to assure the audience that the FHA executive has learned from this experience, and sees “the need to involve folks” the next time an initiative like this is introduced.

“Next time isn’t good enough,” a member of the audience shouted.

Dr. Jones, who told Brolin an apology the society received for the lack of consultation was “not accepted,” suggested the reason was either “incompetence or Machiavellian tactics.”

The Tuesday night meeting was the first public meeting since the closure was announced May 24.

Just Posted

Stellar Haze offers up ‘organic rock’ at Memorial Park

Trio hitting the stage for their first live performance this Friday

RCMP, ERT attending incident at Cheam First Nation

Few details are available about the incident, which saw more than a dozen police cars attend

Chiefs kick off exhibition pre-season stint at Hope Arena

Catch the Chilliwack Chiefs on the ice as they prepare for fresh season

Annual Peters family ball tournament draws a dozen teams to Hope ball diamonds

Recently upgraded field at the Schkam reserve the backdrop for this year’s event

Kent quarry opposition receives federal support

Green Party leader Elizabeth May wrote to the provincial government to oppose the quarry application

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

North Van music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Most Read