Abbotsford mayor says hospital needs to be expanded

Abbotsford mayor says hospital needs to be expanded

Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre has operated at more than 115% capacity for years

Abbotsford’s hospital needs to be expanded to keep up with an expanding population, the city’s mayor said Thursday amidst a warning from local surgeons that serious operations were being delayed because of a lack of capacity.

Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) and Cancer Centre has operated at more than 115 per cent capacity for years. It and Chilliwack General Hospital have been the province’s most overbooked large hospitals, according to government statistics obtained by The News.

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And although Abbotsford has been adding just over 2,000 more residents each year, the hospital has fewer acute-care beds than five years ago.

Last month, Health Minister Adrian Dix admitted that ARH has “extraordinary challenges.”

Asked Thursday about the situation at the hospital, Mayor Henry Braun said he regularly hears complaints about Abbotsford Regional Hospital, which opened to fanfare in 2008.

“This hospital needs to be expanded, with the growth that’s happening not just in Abbotsford but in the region,” he said. “We need to improve health care and access to health care, not the opposite.”

Braun said he understands that there is competition for government money, but that the health-care needs of Abbotsford are pervasive.

“It’s not just our hospital. We have 700 residential care beds that do not meet provincial standards and we’re 300 short, so that’s 1,000 units for our seniors.”

The two issues are linked, because many patients in hospital beds are waiting for care that could be delivered in the community – frequently in residential care facilities.

Health care falls under the province’s jurisdiction and Braun said he has raised the issue in the past. In mid-October, more than 30 local surgeons and anesthesiologists sent a letter to Dix, saying that the government’s focus on speeding up joint operations was bumping local patients down the surgical queue at ARH.

Braun said he hadn’t been aware of the letter before last week, but that he would broach the topic when he and Dix cross paths at a meeting later this month.

“I intend to raise this and a few other things that we have to fix,” he said.

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