05/27/2015 12:47 EDT | Updated 05/26/2016 05:59 EDT

St. Paul's Hospital relocation upsets West End seniors

St. Paul's Hospital's relocation is upsetting many West End seniors, who say they need to be able to walk easily to healthcare services.

There was standing room only at a community meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the hospital's planned move from its Burrard Street location to the False Creek Flats. 

Freeda Elliott, one of many seniors who uses St. Paul's, says the idea of shutting down the West End location is "just rotten."

"It's a crying shame," she says. "Us West End seniors need care and attention, not having to force us to go miles away to a new hospital. I think the province is wasting their money building something totally new." 

Shelley Coppieters, who has been diagnosed with leukemia and kidney failure, says the new location would be hard for her to reach from the West End.  

"It's such a huge population in the West End ... and how are you going to transport people there?" she says. "It's convenience [to have it in the West End] but it sort of kinda should be."

Planning geriatric services in the West End

The West End Seniors Centre says 25 per cent of the neighbourhood's population is 55-plus, and it's consulting with Providence Health Care to plan for continued care in the West End. 

Providence Health Care says the facilities at St. Paul's are quite "old fashioned" and hearken back to the 1970s. Only 25 per cent of its patient rooms are single occupancy whereas the ideal is 100 per cent. 

Still, Dr. Janet Kushner-Kow says it's important to hear the concerns of the community. 

"I can see how people would be very anxious," she said. "Having your dialysis unit just five minutes away and having your clinics and emergency room where you can have easy access is a very legitimate concern and something we have to address." 

Darlene McKinnon, chief clinical planning officer at Providence Health Care, says it recognizes it needs to find a solution for its senior population, but the new location would better serve Vancouver's burgeoning population. The new building is expected to open on the 18.5 acre site by 2022 at a cost of $1.2 billion, assuming the business case for the project can be made.

"It's about population health planning, not buildings," she said. "It's really looking at what are the care needs across the continuum in the community ... and what is the best solution. It's not just about the hospital."