Editorial — Langley generous to hospital, but centralization could lead to major concerns

If Fraser Health Authority disappears into Vancouver body, expect even less attention to Langley hospital's future.

Langley Memorial Hospital is fortunate that there are so many generous residents of this community — people who contribute millions to the hospital through giving to capital campaigns, supporting the hospital auxiliary and giving money through bequests.

This spirit of generosity was on display on two occasions last week — at the unveiling of the new maternity clinic, most of which was funded through private donations, and at the annual Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation gala, held Saturday night.

The new maternity clinic cost $6.5 million, with the Foundation committing to pay for $5.35 million of that through gifts. It is named the Vandekerkhove Family Maternity Clinic, in honour of a $1 million donation from the well-known Langley family.

Fraser Health Authority paid for infrastructure upgrades to allow the new clinic to proceed. The electrical, seismic, and water service upgrades cost an additional $5.5 million.

However, the hospital faces many challenges in the future, and some of them are a result of political decisions. Langley Township is planning to almost double its population in the next 25 years, but there are no plans to add capacity to the hospital in the near future, or even long-term.

Perhaps the biggest threat to care at LMH could come this week. There are persistent rumours that FHA will be rolled into the larger Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. These were partially substantiated when it became known Friday that FHA’s CEO Dr. Nigel Murray is leaving his post to return to his native New Zealand. He is being replaced by the former Vancouver Coastal CEO.

FHA is undergoing a review, the findings of which have been delayed. Its board chair was fired in April.

If Langley’s future hospital needs are going to come under the purview of a giant Vancouver-based health authority, count on this hospital getting almost no attention. Smaller community hospitals will be all but ignored.

There will be very little funding for long-term planning and expansion. Langley residents will pay a steep price for that lack of attention.

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