As we move into 2014, I think it’s a good time to thank all Fraser Health staff, physicians and volunteers, who work tirelessly to meet the health needs of the people that live in our region.
During the past year, Fraser Health’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.
The demand for health care continues to increase, which isn’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 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 B.C. 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.
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 board chair