Two homeless patients from Surrey were sent in a taxi to the Salvation Army Shelter according to a March 5 letter from Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove to Fraser Health. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

Chilliwack’s mayor has met with the health minister and the head of Fraser Health after two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent by taxi to a shelter in Chilliwack, despite still needing medical care.

Ken Popove said he met with Minister Adrian Dix and Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee last weekend in Vancouver, in the wake of his scathing letter to the health authority about two incidents that happened in February.

READ MORE: Fraser Health slammed for taxi debacle

READ MORE: Taxi transfer topic reaches B.C. Premier

“I went there to talk about our community’s struggles to take care of vulnerable people who show up in Chilliwack,” Popove told Black Press Media. “It’s not that I am without compassion or empathy for their struggles, but I had to suggest that perhaps we have more than our fair share of homeless people.”

Last month, a 76-year-old woman with mobility issues and severe incontinence was sent via taxi to the Chilliwack Salvation Army after she was discharged from Surrey Memorial. A man in a wheelchair with open wounds on his feet arrived a few weeks later after being released from the same place. The shelter couldn’t accommodate either.

Popove said he may have “ruffled some feathers” during the meeting.

“There’s a breakdown in the system if people like this are falling through the cracks,” he said. “But overall, it was a very positive meeting.”

He went on to say health officials need to fully provide details to shelter workers when a patient needs a bed.

“They are supposed to send the patient’s file ahead of time so the shelters know what they are signing up for,” he said. “Shelter workers are not trained health professionals, and cannot provide medical care.”

He said he learned Chilliwack General Hospital discharges the largest number of people with no fixed address. Dix said he would look into it and consider a refresher on the discharge policy.

READ MORE: Shelter says no, taxi arrives anyway


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jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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