Seventy-nine high-needs seniors are losing their beds at the Delta View Habilitation Centre due to an unresolved funding dispute between operators and the Fraser Health Authority.

The facility is ending its contract with Fraser Health next spring after being asked to take a seven per cent budget cut, which operators argued would have compromised care.

The first of the senior psychiatric patients are being transferred out this month, a move Delta View recreational therapist Erica Beckstead described as “heartbreaking.”

“There’s a lot of people that are suffering from the later stages of Alzheimer’s,” Beckstead said. “They get very used to their surroundings and used to the people they see every day, so I’m just really worried about what will happen to them.”

Among the Alzheimer’s patients is Lucie Marquis’ 63-year-old husband John, who has been at the centre since late July.

“It’s very upsetting,” Marquis said. “The next move he’s going to go downhill again because he doesn’t understand why he moves… and then he’s with all these new people who don’t know him.”

Marquis added that Delta View has taken exceptional care of John – who has already been moved four times in the last 18 months.

“The system has basically failed my husband,” she said.

Fraser Health is opening 79 new beds at facilities in Surrey and Langley to offset the loss at Delta View, and spokesman Roy Thorpe Dorward assured that the health authority is working to ensure an easy transition.

“We have individual transition teams that will each work with each and every resident and family to try and make that as smooth as possible,” he said.

Thorpe Dorward said the requested funding cut at Delta View was intended for support costs, such as food services, laundry and gardening.

“That’s the reduction we were asking them to make to bring it in line with other service providers,” Dorward said.

Delta View gave a one-year contract termination notice in March, and patient transfers are expected to be completed by spring 2013.

Thorpe Dorward said patients can indicate a preference to stay at Delta View, and could potentially be moved into another bed at the facility if it fits their care needs.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Maria Weisgarber