'Don't let this happen': Daughter of dying patient appeals for Delta hospice to remain open

·2 min read

Ten days ago, when Jo Ann Steen moved into the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner, both she and her family finally had a chance to catch their breath.

The 73-year-old was diagnosed with quickly spreading lung and brain cancer in September. After surgery came the devastating news her condition was terminal, leaving the family to piece together care, all with the added complexity of the pandemic.

"She was very, very sick," said daughter Alison Steen. "We had a combination of nurses at the house and people that we knew. And we as family members quickly became doctors, nurses, pharmacists, caregivers — all the people that we are not."

Steen said her mother's condition improved within days of moving to the hospice thanks to the "amazing" staff.

But almost immediately, the good news turned bad.

On Thursday, Jo Ann was informed by Fraser Health she was being moved to a long-term care home where five hospice beds were being created.

The news comes as a service agreement between Fraser Health and the Delta Hospice Society and $1.5 million in annual funding is set to expire Feb. 25.

The termination of both the agreement and funding was announced last year after the Delta Hospice Society refused to offer medical assistance in dying.

Fraser Health said it has made repeated but unsuccessful efforts to work with the society in transitioning the facility and its staff.

"I don't really know all of the politics of it, but between the [DHS] board and Fraser Health it's an absolute mess," said Steen. "My mom is dying ... and now we have to deal with this?"

"Somebody help. Somebody don't let this happen. Don't let the hospice close its doors."

CBC News requested an interview with DHS board chair Angelina Ireland but she was not available.

Last week, the society gave termination notices to 50-plus part and full-time staff members. Fraser Health said those workers will be offered jobs.

Jim Sinclair, the chair of the board for Fraser Health, said the DHS will be served a 30 day eviction notice on Feb. 25.

He said he expects the Irene Thomas Hospice will be operating again under Fraser Health's jurisdiction, within a few months.