For Audrey Craig and others at the Comox Valley Hospice Society, a 40-year dream will become a reality next year when a new four-bed hospice space opens at The Views residential care facility at St. Joseph’s General Hospital.
“It’s been an extremely long journey for all of us,” Craig, the society’s president, said Friday at a ceremony at the hospital.
The provincial government provided a $250,000 grant to the Hospital Foundation to support construction of the space, which is expected to open by mid-2015. Island Health will provide ongoing operational funds while the Hospice Society — through donations — will provide supports and counselling to clients and their families.
The foundation and the society continue to fundraise for capital construction, furnishing and equipment to create a welcoming hospice environment. Each room will have an ocean or garden view.
A clinical operations working group is determining how the new hospice service will operate in terms of procedures, admission criteria and eligibility requirements.
“Community-based hospice care is an important component of the range of services and supports available to individuals and families who are dealing with end-of-life care and decisions during a very difficult and stressful time,” Island Health board chair Don Hubbard said.
Foundation representative Marion Lade said the designated four-bed palliative hospice unit — in some ways — brings to a close a wish dear to her heart.
“And yet I know the reality is not the end of a wish but a beginning,” Lade said. “What a difference this will make in the lives of those who are dying and to their family members.”
While some prefer to remain at home, hospital board chair Chris Kelsey says some patients and their families need the support of trained personnel and the resources of a hospice service.
“There can be so much joy within the walls of this building, from the birth of babies to people overcoming great medical hardships, but there can also of course be so much sadness and grief,” Kelsey said.
“We hope that with our partners we’re going to be able to provide a place where they are treated with caring and compassion — a place where they can find true peace as lives draw to a close.”
Craig thanked Comox Valley MLA Don McRae for being the champion of hospice.
“Thank you to everybody,” McRae said.
“It’s taken a whole community — not just a year, we’ve taken many years, decades — to get to where we are today.”