The hospital's mortality ratio was 20% above average the last 2 years
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Good Morning!
When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I have different approaches to long-term planning. He likes to consider himself cautiously optimistic, talking about potential camping trips or summer gatherings. I consider myself cautiously pessimistic, assuming everything will be the same for some time to come. Both have value—at least that’s my argument—but it does look like cautious optimism is starting to win out. I have my vaccination appointment today, and the case average is down 24% in Fraser Health. It certainly seems like good news is around the corner—just don’t tell my husband I said that. —Grace Kennedy, reporter
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Abbotsford Regional Hospital has seen higher than expected deaths for several years. Officials hope paperwork is to blame. 📸  Tyler Olsen
Is faulty paperwork to blame for a troubling hospital statistic?

Officials at Abbotsford Regional Hospital are hoping that paperwork errors are to blame for a statistic that suggests the facility is the most dangerous for patients in the Lower Mainland.

ARH’s Hospitalized Standardized Mortality Ratio (HSMR) was 20% above the regional, provincial, and national averages in the last 2 years for which data is available. The HSMR is a simple measure, comparing the number of deaths a hospital could expect to see, given the population it serves and the cases it treats.

The Canadian, BC, and regional average are all in the mid-90s. Abbotsford’s was 117 in 2018/19 and 117 again in 2019/20. If those figures are accurate, it would translate to dozens of excess deaths each year. After the first figures were released a year and a half ago, Fraser Health told this reporter that it was working on a number of initiatives to reduce the rate, including increasing oversight of complex care cases and attempting to reduce the in-hospital infection rate.

Asked last week about the response, the hospitals executive director Brendan Abbott said ARH has a "number of projects underway that are looking to do work in this area."

He said these projects include the physician discharge templates, which feature case and chart reviews. T
hose case reviews involve looking at whether details about cases were miscategorized in the documentation, and whether that has led to the higher death rates seen in the statistics.

"We’re confident that when the next round of results come out, we will see some very different results," he said. "Certainly in every organization, there are improvements that can be made in the care that’s delivered. But we’ve also found a number of documentation improvements that could be in place, where it appears there is harm, but that harm is not actually relevant to the case. In fact, it is more of a documentation error than it is harm."

Whatever the cause, there is nothing new about ARH’s elevated HSMR: it has been well above the regional, provincial, and national average for each of the last 5 years.

— By Tyler Olsen
Need to Know
🚗 A man was discovered dead in a parked vehicle in Mission along with 2 dogs, 1 of which had also died. Police say the body had been there several days. [Mission City Record]

🛏 Residents of Chilliwack's Portal shelter will be leaving its Yale Road location by the end of the week
. [Chilliwack Progress]

🏍 A 64-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a crash with an SUV in Abbotsford Tuesday morning. [Abbotsford News]

🔥 Officials suspect a 13-hectare wildfire near Sts'ailes was human-caused. Another 22-hectare fire burning in the area is now under control. [Agassiz-Harrison Observer]

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Chilliwack is starting work on its new Active Transportation Plan. 📸  Ko Kim/Shutterstock
The Agenda
Chilliwack is beginning work on an Active Transportation Plan that will help uncover what the city can do better to support biking, walking, and other "people-powered" forms of travel. The city is currently working with Urban Systems to evaluate its current infrastructure, and will be consulting with city committees and "vulnerable road users" this spring. The general public will be invited to share their opinions this summer.

BC’s movie industry raised nearly $164,000 to support projects in Metro Vancouver parks, including reforesting Aldergrove Regional Park. The funds were raised through the inaugural REEL Earth Day Challenge, which asked crews, productions, and sponsors of locally filmed shows such as The Flash and Riverdale to raise money for environmental improvements to parks from Vancouver to Langley. The money was donated to the Pacific Parklands Foundation, a registered charity which supports Metro Vancouver’s parks.

The province has announced that 10 Indigenous and rural communities will be getting improved internet access. Telus has agreed to the $3.9-million project, which will bring reliable high-speed internet to Dogwood Valley, Squeah, Yale, and several communities within the Skawahlook, Chawathil, and Yale First Nations. "We have 4 separate communities and currently none have a reliable internet connection," Elsie Kipp, administrator for Yale First Nation, said. "This project will enable our people to pursue education and employment opportunities that aren’t possible with poor internet connections." The province will give $2.9 million to Telus for the project, which is expected to be complete by the end of October.

The Floor Is Yours: Should BC subsidize a private company to provide better internet access in rural areas?
COVID latest
New local data shows that cases are going down in parts of Abbotsford, although both it and Mission are still seeing some of the highest daily rates of COVID-19 outside of Surrey. Cases in Aldergrove have also gone up, as have cases in Hope. Positivity rates for most of the Fraser Valley are also high: between 10-20% in most of Abbotsford, Aldergrove, and South Mission and above 3% everywhere else. (Agassiz is the exception, with a positivity rate at 1% or less.) [BCCDC COVID data]

Fraser Health
  • New cases: 285 / 313 average (down 24% from one week ago)
  • 0 active outbreaks at hospitals / 1 active outbreak in long-term care
  • School exposures: Abbotsford: 19 / Chilliwack: 4 / Langley: 10 / Mission: 9 / Fraser Cascade: 1
  • Workplace closures (May 15-17): 3
  • New cases: 411 / 488 average (down 21% from one week ago)
  • 360 hospitalizations (down 15% from one week ago)
  • 2 new deaths / 1,650 total
Around Town
🎨 Agassiz’s Storytime in the Park is back, and wants your drawings to turn into bookmarks. Print off the form and submit it by June 11.

It's Asian Heritage Month, and the South Asian Studies Institute at UFV has released new videos documenting the history of Abbotsford’s Gur Sikh Temple and Sikhs in the Lower Mainland.

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