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

Governor General’s Award-winning author launches her new book

Wendy Phillips’s ‘Baggage’ is told in experimental ‘free verse’ style

Nanaimo city councillors to hold e-town hall meeting on strategic priorities

Meeting will take place May 23 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Nanaimo Heritage Festival helps highlight the long weekend

Parade and family activities took place downtown today, May 19

Crews putting out one of the first wildfires of the season in Nanaimo

Nanaimo Fire Rescue, B.C. Wildfire Service called to Doumont Road fire

Editorial: Homelessness task force has to be more than misdirection

Task force won’t be able to address all the challenging issues that come before Nanaimo council

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Nanaimo ferry stops to let bear swim past

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife

Two cats die in house fire in Nanaimo

Fire happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Fifth Street, one resident displaced

Wellington Secondary drama program stages adaptation of ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Production will feature two actresses in the role of Alice

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Say no to plastic straws

Straws make drinking frappuccinos easier, but they kill sea creatures, says letter writer

RDN looking into providing bus service 365 days a year

RDN transit committee to consider adding bus service on Christmas, New Year’s and Good Friday

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Nanaimo author details hotel history along the E&N railway

Along the E&N tells the story of 32 establishments from Esquimalt to Campbell River

Most Read