Plus: the latest COVID update
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Friday, May 13, 2022
Good Morning Reader!
There’s a lot to unpack in today’s edition, and it’s probably a good one to end the week, since it will give you guys the weekend to digest it all. This newsletter is (unofficially) the health edition, but it is by no means an extensive look on the subject. There is no shortage of stories to cover under that umbrella. I’m actually working on one right now about the shortage of family doctors and access to mammograms. Have you had trouble getting screened? I’d love to hear from you. Reply to this newsletter with your experience. That aside, hope you enjoy today’s edition. Have a great weekend! —Joti Grewal, reporter

Today’s weather: 🌧 12 C
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Fraser Canyon Hospital in Hope has 10 beds and no maternity department. At least one local politician says it needs more support to serve the community. 📸 Redwigeon/Wikimedia
‘It’s not a real hospital’

A Hope-area politician has leveled a damning indictment of his local hospital and its lack of services.

"It’s not a real hospital," FVRD director Denis Adamson told Fraser Health CEO Victoria Lee at a recent meeting, pointing to the lack of births at Fraser Canyon Hospital. Adamson’s words are the latest complaint about the two smallest hospitals in the valley, with Mission officials also calling for improvements at the facility in that city.

But Fraser Health officials say that while they are looking at improving services and resources at the smaller sites, providing care in larger regional hospitals can improve safety.

Tyler writes about Adamson’s call for more services at Hope’s hospital, and why Lee said delivering babies in larger centres often makes more sense.

Missed yesterday’s story? Find it here: Outgoing Langley mayor discusses the city’s biggest hurdle
Need to Know
🚔 A missing Abbotsford teen was located in West Vancouver and the American man who was accompanying her is in police custody [Abbotsford Police]

🅿️ Paid parking will resume in Harrison beginning Sunday [Agassiz Harrison Observer]

🚫 The mayor of Langley City has been removed from several roles after being censured by council for ‘unbecoming behaviour’ [Global]

⚖️ An Abbotsford man has been released on bail after recently being sentenced to prison for his role in a crash that killed a woman [Abbotsford News]

💻 The Mission School District was the target of a data breach; the district is warning the public not to open emails from teachers [Mission Record]

☺ TODAY’S SMILE: A Langley hatchery invited the public to help release 22,000 baby salmon into a river [Diane J Payne/YouTube]

Fraser Health plans to build new long-term care facilities adjacent to both the Chilliwack and Abbotsford hospitals. 📸 Fraser Health
The Agenda
The vision for new long-term care buildings in Abbotsford and Chilliwack was recently revealed, as Fraser Health hopes to build new facilities adjacent to the hospitals in both cities. Local politicians were told that Fraser Health is waiting for the provincial government to formally approve the two projects, and that it hopes to receive the go-ahead for the Abbotsford facility in June. That building would be constructed on land just east of Abbotsford Regional Hospital. The Chilliwack facility would replace the Bradley Centre, which occupies the second floor of a wing in that city’s hospital. The Current reported in March that Fraser Health had requested $60 million from the Fraser Valley Regional Hospital District for the two projects. With the hospital district on the hook for 40% of such projects, that means the total budget for the two facilities is likely to exceed $150 million.

With hundreds stranded in Hope following November’s landslides and floods, helicopters couldn’t use Fraser Canyon Hospital’s helipad because it hadn’t been used recently and it wasn’t certified. A Fraser Health official told local politicians last month that the health authority will upgrade the heliport to prevent a repeat of the situation. Around 1,100 people were stuck in Hope last fall after mudslides and flooding temporarily cut the city off from the Lower Mainland. While the Hope Airpark, located 7.4 km away from the hospital, was used during the flooding, the helipad would have allowed for the direct transport of patients and supplies to and from hospitals. During the floods, helicopters were used to deliver and pick-up crucial lab supplies, the Provincial Health Services Authority wrote earlier this year. A photo showed a helicopter landing at the airpark outside of town. Fraser Health has not given a timeline for when the certification process or upgrades will be completed.

It is "very difficult to contain outbreaks" in long-term care homes with multiple people sleeping in the same room, Fraser Health vice-president Brent Kruschel said recently while speaking about the planned new seniors homes in the region. Kruschel said the pandemic has highlighted a key problem with facilities like Abbotsford’s Cottage-Worthington Pavilion, where four residents often live and sleep in the same room. Kruschel said the health system needs to move away from such models, and that the new facilities planned for the region would have single-occupancy rooms.

New hospitals in Metro Vancouver, like the one coming to Burnaby, are funded 100% by the province. In return, local taxpayers fund regional transit. 📸 Fraser Health
Are Fraser Valley residents subsidizing Metro Vancouver hospitals?
Fraser Valley residents who buy gas in Langley and further west are indirectly subsidizing the construction of hospitals in Metro Vancouver.

That’s the idea recently floated by Chilliwack Coun. Jason Lum, as he asked for a deeper look into whether local taxpayers are getting ripped off, and whether the way hospital improvements in the Lower Mainland needs to change. You can read here about those new concerns around the decades-old deal between the province and Vancouver politicians.

The conversation follows Fraser Health’s request for millions more in local property taxes to cover the cost of coming hospital and long-term care improvements. We wrote about Fraser Health’s surprise request for $4.2 million here. At a meeting in late April, the Fraser Valley Regional Hospital District rejected that request, voting instead to provide the $1.8 million that it usually provides each year.
COVID latest

If the data from previous weeks looks slightly different on the COVID graph, that’s because it is. When the province releases its weekly data report each Thursday, it is with the disclaimer that numbers from previous weeks may change as more data becomes available. For the week of April 24, the province reported 157 hospitalizations in Fraser Health, but yesterday’s weekly report showed that figure had been updated to 155. So we likely won’t have a clear understanding of the trends until weeks into the future.

New weekly cases reported (May 1-7): Fraser Health 742 / BC 1987
New hospital admissions (May 1-7): Fraser Health 155 / BC 331
COVID patients in ICU: Fraser Health 27 / BC 54
New deaths of people with COVID: Fraser Health 17 / BC 59

Around Town
🗺 The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission is holding its final meeting for its preliminary phase tonight at 5pm. It’s a chance for the public to provide feedback on the province’s electoral district boundaries. Details online.

🔬 Fraser Health is hosting a series of free online presentations beginning May 17 on the latest health research in BC. Register online.

🚗 VINN aims to help consumers through the car-shopping process. Save 40 hours in market research and let one of our vehicle experts find your perfect car today, and they do it all for free.*
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