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

Fraser Health taxied Surrey homeless patients to Chilliwack shelters, mayor says

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove calls the practice ‘unacceptable’ in a March 5 letter

Chilliwack’s mayor is demanding answers after two patients were discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and transported by taxi to a Chilliwack homeless shelter.

Ken Popove asked Fraser Health officials in a March 5 letter to address the “serious concerns” he has about discharging patients into taxis destined for shelters in his community if they still require medical care.

“A homeless shelter is no place for a person with health concerns or special medical needs,” Popove wrote. “Discharging patients into homeless shelters when they still require some level of care is not an acceptable practice.”

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said they have received the letter and are looking into the specific concerns.

READ MORE: Rough winter for those trying to survive on Chilliwack streets

Last month, a 76-year-old woman with mobility and severe incontinence was sent via taxi to the Chilliwack Salvation Army, arriving with a walker and unable to attend to her own hygiene.

Salvation Army staff were unable to accommodate her, and she was later moved to a temporary shelter where stairs are not an issue. But dealing with constant fecal matter raised serious concerns for both staff and other shelter clients.

“Unfortunately, this individual became increasingly frustrated over her health issues and became belligerent with staff and threatened to kill them,” Popove said. The woman left the temporary shelter and returned to the Salvation Army.

A couple weeks later, the same organization got a phone call about a second patient being discharged from Surrey Memorial and needing a bed. The man was in a wheelchair and had open wounds on his feet.

“This information was not disclosed by the social worker, and shelter staff realized they would be unable to provide the level of care this individual requires,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C. homeless camper barricades himself in shelter as inspections take place

Popove said he wants to know why this happened twice, as Chilliwack already has challenges with its shelters.

Rumours abound in Chilliwack about homeless people being bused or taxied there from other areas, which has fostered feelings of resentment and frustration.

“Chilliwack already has a very high population of homeless people per capita and we have been working hard to advocate for shelter and housing and, in many cases, have provided financial support,” Popove said.

“Our residents know their tax dollars are going to support significant housing first projects in our community and feel this investment should not be used to make Chilliwack a destination for homeless people from throughout the region.”


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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