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Burquitlam Lions Care Centre to close

The Burquitlam Lions Care Centre is set to close within the next couple of years after learning its Fraser Health funding will be going to a new, for-profit facility set to open in 2016.

"They plan on closing us down by ending our funding agreement," said David Dines, Burquitlam's administrator. "They're saying the building is too old, but we're not really. It's all private rooms, fully accredited, so why do they want to close us down when they need 300 more beds?"

Dines was referring to a recent Fraser Health review that found the region is behind the provincial average for care beds by at least 300.

According to Fraser Health, the new Port Coquitlam facility, called Nicola Lodge, will bring 136 new residential care beds to the Tri-Cities in addition to the 76 it will take over from Burquitlam.

Dines said Burquitlam, a non-profit facility, opened in June 1981 and has been a "top-level provider of care for seniors in that 33-year period."

They are fully accredited and have been honoured with an exemplary standing award by Accreditation Canada, something only 20% of long-term care facilities receive, Dines said.

"There are lots of reasons to keep us going, but Fraser Health is taking our beds and funding and giving them to a new build in PoCo."

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said Burquitlam doesn't offer the physical space needed for wheelchairs and walkers for complex care patients.

"We've provided the centre and its residents with two years' notice," Juma said. "Staff and the care teams will meet with individual residents at Burquitlam and their families to develop proper transition plans when the new facility opens."

But Dines said many residents don't want to move to Nicola because it will be about a 25-minute drive away.

Re-opening as a private-pay facility isn't likely an option, he added, since it would add about $5,000 a month to the current $2,200 monthly fee, making it impossible for most seniors.

Burquitlam is planning to sue Fraser Health — a lawsuit has been drafted and sent to Fraser Health as a courtesy but has not yet been filed in court — saying they were excluded from the RFP process.

Dines said Burquitlam had applied to be in the RFP process but was later removed after a potential conflict of interest was found. The manager of the financial company backing the Burquitlam bid is also a member of the Provincial Health Services Association's volunteer board of directors, but Dines said PHSA wasn't even involved in the RFP — Fraser Health had handed that responsibility over to Health Shared Services B.C.

Had Burquitlam won the contract, Dines said, the plan was to rebuild and grow to a 145-bed facility.

Juma said Burquitlam did not satisfy the requirements of the pre-qualification stage and was not asked to continue in the RFP process.

"The pre-qualification requirements are pretty clear," Juma added. "I'm not aware of this being an issue of conflict of interest."

spayne@tricitynews.com

 

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