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

Agassiz-Harrison Museum showcases refreshed galleries, exhibits

The museum opened for the season on the May long weekend

Chilliwack man urging drivers to follow rules of the road

‘People might think I’m stupid for doing this but it’s my life,’ says scooter operator

Man pleads guilty to Surrey crash that killed two Abbotsford women

Sarah Dhillon and Paige Nagata died following head-on collision on Nov. 4, 2018

LETTER: Emergencies can wait on Sasquatch Mountain

Hemlock Valley resident Andy Ibbetson writes about his concerns on the new E-comm 911 service

Semi truck crashes into highway barrier cable near Chilliwack

Witnesses warning other drivers to watch for debris in other lanes

VIDEO: Quadriplegic man takes flight over Harrison Mills

Jim Ryan hasn’t moved his arms or legs for three years, but that didn’t stop him from paragliding

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Fraser Valley chef sentenced to seven years for million-dollar drug operation

Raymon Ranu has been working as a cook since he was arrested for selling fentanyl and cocaine

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Missing man last seen near Cultus Lake may have walked into the U.S.

Chilliwack RCMP asking for public’s help to locate 29-year-old Timothy Delahaye of North Vancouver

Most Read