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

RDN adopts new bylaw to prevent backflow

Board wants to avoid legal liability

Former Parksville Generals player lands head coaching gig in Norway

New position is a dream come true for Henry Acres

Parksville resort fire caused by flammable gas used to extract oil from cannabis

Investigators detail reasons for explosion and blaze that destroyed building

Suspect arrested following gunpoint robbery in Qualicum Beach

Stop and Shop Grocery was robbed June 5; man now in custody

UPDATED: Wildfire burning near Taylor Flats in the Alberni Valley

Fire is located close to Highway 4 near Sproat Lake

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Police probe report of shooting as Raptors rally continues

There were reports of a woman being injured at the event that celebrates the team’s NBA title win

Oil and gas sector cautious as deadline on Trans Mountain decision nears

Trudeau government expected to announce whether it will approve pipeline for second time on Tuesday

Skipping school costs a dozen B.C. students chance at a new car

Cowichan’s Jared Lammi showed up and won $5,000 cheque toward vehicle, but he can’t drive

BC Ferries adds extra and late night summer sailings

Seasonal adjustments to sailing times also in effect on many routes

Man suffers burns, dog dies in fire in Nanaimo

Structure burns down on Clifford Road property in Cedar

Province comes through with funding for Charleigh Fales

Lake Cowichan toddler only one in B.C. diagnosed with CLN2 Batten disease

People throwing food at a bear in Fernie alarms conservation groups

“Approaching and feeding bears contributes to habituation,” says conservation group

Most Read