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Outpatient rehab clinic in Chilliwack to open Tuesday

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O'Mahony is asking the B.C. health minister to delay the decision to close the rehab unit at Chilliwack General Hospital.

Health Minister Michael de Jong declined to comment publicly last week on O'Mahony's request, saying the matter at this time in the hands of the Fraser Health Authority.

But O'Mahony remained optimistic that de Jong, whose own riding in Abbotsford will be affected by the closure, will step in and order a "pause" in the closure until gaps in Chilliwack home support system can be addressed.

"There are holes in Chilliwack's home care support system," she said. "There isn't any disagreement with that."

But last Thursday, an FHA spokesman said there are no changes to the plan to replace the in-hospital rehab ward with an outpatient service starting Aug. 14.

At that time, an inter-disciplinary team of "outpatient rehab clinicians" will be in place to provide additional rehab services to outpatients, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing, a rehabilitation assistant, a social worker and speech and language pathology.

The conversion to outpatient clinic is expected to be complete by Aug. 31 and rehab patients needing hospital treatment will be sent to Abbotsford.

O'Mahony said in her Aug. 8 letter to de Jong that "patients, family members and caregivers have raised significant concerns about the gaps that will undoubtedly come to light as a result of this closure."

"The Fraser Valley is a growing region and it's crucial that significant changes to health care delivery be made dispassionately and only after all the expert evidence has been weighed," she said.

"I'm hoping you can assist in having this decision delayed, so Chilliwack residents can have confidence that the correct decision is ultimately reached."

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