As we move into 2014, I think itâ€™s a good time to thank all Fraser Health staff, physicians, and volunteers, who work tirelessly to meet the health needs of the people who live in our region.
During the past year, Fraser Healthâ€™s 12 hospitals saw 615,000 emergency visits, 15,000 births, and one million patient days.
We also saw increases in our residential care, home health, mental health, and substance use, and other community services â€“ indeed a busy year for us.
The delivery of health care can be challenging and complex. They do a fantastic job.
The demand for health care continues to increase, which isnâ€™t surprising, given we provide service to one of the fastest growing regions in Canada, with a population of 1.7 million, a third of all British Columbians.
This past year we opened a new emergency ward at Surrey Memorial Hospital, the second largest in Canada, and one that serves our entire region with a dedicated pediatric emergency, and specialized care for mental health and substance use provided in a separate zone.
We look forward to opening the rest of the critical care tower this June. It will feature a new and expanded intensive care unit, a specialized stroke unit, and additional beds to meet the need for hospital care by our growing population in Fraser Health.
We are proud of this $512-million project which represents the largest single capital investment in BC health care.
In addition to continuing investments in all our hospitals, the health care system needs to evolve from one focused on hospital services to one that places more emphasis on services in the community and the home. With the right supports, we believe that home can be the best place to recover from illness or injury, to manage chronic conditions, and to live out final days. Thatâ€™s why over the past year we have increased our home support care hours, awarded contracts for new residential care facilities in several of our communities, and introduced a new philosophy called â€œSeamless Care.â€
A seamless, satisfying. and quality health and wellness journey for all the residents of Fraser Health is one we strive for.
The safety of our patients and staff is of utmost importance. Building upon ongoing strategies to promote a culture of safety in our care facilities, we are collaborating with the Emily Carr University of Art and Design to design new and innovative resources that will help keep our patients safe from common hazards in hospitals, such as infections, falls, and medication errors.
Late last year, the Minister of Health asked me to co-chair a strategic and operational review of Fraser Health. I welcome this opportunity to work with health leaders across B.C. to identify potential strategies that will make for an even better (and sustainable) health care system, not only in Fraser Health, but across B.C.
I am proud that Fraser Health is committed to providing quality care, while having one of the lowest administrative costs of any health region in Canada.
We will continue to be prudent with the public funding we receive.
Thank you for entrusting your care in us.
David Mitchell, Fraser Health