Holding back tears, Audrey Craig said she, along with the entire board of directors of the Comox Valley Hospice Society “are over the moon” following an announcement Friday of a $250,000 grant by the provincial government towards four new hospice beds at St. Joseph’s General Hospital.
Craig, the president of the organization, explained the grant will support renovation costs to the hospice beds in The Views residential care facility, scheduled to open next spring.
“This community has been working diligently to having access to the kind of hospice services that are available elsewhere throughout the province. With Island Health’s announcement of operational funds for four beds in November, coupled with the grant from the Ministry of Health, we are now on a fast track to realizing our dream — a 40 year dream.”
Both Health Minister Terry Lake and Comox Valley MLA Don McRae were on hand at the public opening of the healing gardens at the hospital for the announcement.
“I have friends involved in the hospice society here so I was aware of their work, but Don McRae has been a tireless champion of the cause and it fits in extremely well with Premier Clark’s vision that she wants me to carry out of doubling hospice beds by 2020 throughout the province of British Columbia,” he explained.
“This was an opportunity and Island Health has made the commitment for operating to put the capitol in. It will speed up the project and make sure that people of the Comox Valley will have the opportunity to have hospice in the community sooner rather than later.”
McRae said the grant is the biggest $250,000 announcement the B.C. government has ever made in the Comox Valley.
“I say that because there are so many partners … there’s just so many individuals that came together with Island Health as well to make sure that we become the beneficiaries of these four hospice beds.”
The renovations to The Views will convert existing four-bed rooms into single rooms. The rooms will have private bathrooms, space for families and loved ones and a home-like feel.
Each of the four rooms will also have ocean and/or garden views, and the renovations will create a dedicated and separate entrance to the hospice area.
The total population in the Comox Valley is expected to increase by more than 24 per cent by 2030, while the population of those 75 and older is expected to increase by 83 per cent.