Patients at the Irene Thomas Hospice in Delta, B.C. are being forced to move before Feb. 25, 2020. Fraser Health blames a lack of co-operation with the Delta Hospice Society Board ahead of a long-planned transition.

Fraser Health says patients at the Irene Thomas Hospice in Delta will have to transfer as the health authority prepares to take over from operators who refused to provide medical assistance in dying.

It says in a statement released Saturday, Feb. 6 that the Delta Hospice Society was unwilling to agree to terms last week that would have ensured a “seamless transition” of hospice services onsite.

“In the absence of agreement by the Delta Hospice Society, we must put our patients first and provide them with the option to transfer now to a facility of their choice, or remain at the Irene Thomas Hospice until closer to Feb. 24 and then transfer to another facility,” reads the statement.

Feb. 24 is when the service agreement with the hospice society ends, and Fraser Health said last month it will serve the society with 30 days' notice to vacate the property the following day.

“Fraser Health expects to gain possession of the Hospice buildings, and we are planning accordingly,” continues the statement.

Negotiations between the health authority and the hospice society have been rocky. In January, Angelina Ireland, president of the hospice society board, denied her board was refusing to work with Fraser Health on a transition plan.

“Fraser Health will not co-operate with us,” she said.

Reached again for comment on Sunday, Ireland disputed the accusations again and said Fraser Health's order for the society to stop admitting new patients showed it lacked commitment to a seamless transition.

Fraser Health says it intends to keep providing beds at the Irene Thomas Hospice once the society has vacated and it will pause its plans to open replacement beds at another local long-term care home.

Staff who will be laid off from the hospice can expect to be offered replacement jobs, according to the health authority.

“We are working with the appropriate unions to ensure all unionized hospice staff who received layoff notices from the Society will have employment opportunities within Fraser Health if they want them,” reads the statement.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Ben Miljure and The Canadian Press