Patients at a hospice in Ladner fear the final days and weeks of their lives may be disrupted by a dispute between facility management and Fraser Health.
“How can I fight for my life with all of this going on?” asked 78-year-old Cecil Hardy from his bed at the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care in Ladner.
Hardy has a terminal case of sarcoma, and after weighing his options, chose to live out his final days in hospice.
“I certainly don’t want to leave here,” he told CTV News Vancouver. “I’m trying to fight and extend my life for my kids. I want to live as long as I can for them. And then I’ve got to worry about this?”
The Delta Hospice Society Board refuses to offer medical assistance in dying, despite a directive from the province to all hospices in British Columbia.
The board has instead suggested that patients in their care who decide they want to exercise that choice should be transferred to Delta Hospital, which is just a few hundred meters away.
"You don't take somebody in that stage of end of life and throw them on a gurney or a wheelchair and roll them down the street,” said Chris Pettypiece, spokesperson for a group called Take Back Delta Hospice. “This is a home for these people. This was a home for my dad in his dying days."
Fraser Health has given the board notice that its contract will be terminated on Feb. 24, at which point the health authority plans to take over and begin running the hospice.
But, according to Fraser Health, the current board has so far refused to cooperate with the transition.
“We have made repeated efforts to work with the current society to ensure that hospice care, including the staff, can continue seamlessly at the existing facility. These efforts have been unsuccessful,” the health authority said in a statement.
The Delta Hospice Society Board declined a CTV News request for an on camera interview and instead referenced a prerecorded YouTube video.
"The society has done all it can to have discussions with Fraser Health and provide creative solutions. It has done all it can to follow its service agreement and the required legislation,” board president Angelina Ireland said in the video.
The board has issued layoff notices to all of the staff at the hospice, effective Feb. 24, the day before Fraser Health takes over.
The lack of a coordinated transition and the layoff notices have led to concerns hospice patients will have to be transferred to other facilities during their last days of life.
"They need to step aside and let things happen on Feb. 25, and let Fraser Health and the province of B.C. take over the running of this Delta Hospice,” said Delta South MLA Ian Paton,
Back at the hospice, caught in the middle of the ideological stalemate, Hardy doesn’t know if he has the strength to survive a move.
“They might as well just euthanize me now. There’s really no difference,” he said. “I’m trying to live my life as long as I can.”