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Residents meet with Fraser Health over public health unit
Representatives from Fraser Health sat down with concerned Ladner residents to discuss proposed changes to the South Delta Public Health Unit, but the health authority won’t be changing its plan to move nurses to North Delta.
The regional health authority is planning to move staff from the Ladner location to North Delta in order to administer services remotely. Staff levels are expected to change to 13 full and part-time nurses from the current 19.
Ladner mother Niamh Plaxton said Fraser Health reached out to her following a protest she organized outside the health unit in October which drew 200 people. She recently met with Tim Shum, executive director for population health, Sherry Baidwan, manager for public health, and Karen Dickinson, director for public health.
“Overall, we were pretty pleased they came ready to answer our questions and they certainly did answer them so we felt like we got into an area of transparency we were hoping for,” said Plaxton, adding she conveyed South Delta residents are “very happy” with the current health services levels.
But changes are coming which continue to concern Plaxton and other mothers.
She confirmed that all nurses will be located in North Delta beginning in January and some will travel to South Delta to deliver services. And while all mandated services will be continued in South Delta, phone calls to patients will be made from North Delta.
Plaxton said that in theory it doesn’t matter where the phone call originates but not having a nurse physically at the South Delta health unit could be a problem.
“We talked about our concern for moms who are struggling with post-partum [depression] who would not be able to make an appointment, would not be able to guarantee a time to get there.”
Plaxton said she has confirmed drop-in hours to see a public health nurse will be cut to just Thursdays for two hours in the afternoon. As well, a speech therapist that was lost through natural attrition will not be replaced.
A nurse will continue to run the Best Beginnings program for new mothers, but Plaxton said she won’t necessarily be available at the South Delta site.
“[Fraser Health] said that they did not make any announcements about this restructuring because they honestly thought nobody would notice. They felt there would be no change in service that would be noticeable.”
When Plaxton asked how they planned to measure that community response, she said it became clear there were no plans in place to determine whether the restructuring was success, or even how those metrics would be established.
In a statement released by Tim Shum, he said he appreciated the opportunity to having open communication and dialogue with the residents of Delta regarding the decision to pool staffing resources of the North and South Delta Public Health Units.
“Our primary goal is to achieve a seamless amalgamation of staffing resources, so that South Delta residents will not notice any changes to the services they currently receive,” he said. “We welcome regular feedback from residents as we move through this process.”