Allan Bradley is hopeful government funding for Lionel Kelland Hospice will be in place in the coming months.
The proposed palliative care unit has been in the works since 2014, now with a location in Grand Falls-Windsor, preliminary architecture plans completed, and over $750,000 raised.
But before the renovation and construction work can begin, board chair Bradley says getting the government support is crucial.
“We need $3.7 million to do the construction,” he said. “We’re hoping to raise a lot more because we have a capital campaign ready to launch as soon as we get the government support.”
Grand Falls-Windsor resident Pauline Power has seen first-hand the value a hospice unit can have.
Power had two sisters who spent their final months in palliative care. Her older sister passed away in 2012 at the Regional Health Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor, and her younger sister died in 2016 at the hospice unit in Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital.
“It was quite a contrast in the type of care my sisters received,” Power told The Central Voice. “Up until four or five days before my older sister passed away, she was in a four-bed room.
“Then when we moved into a private room there was hardly enough room for the family to be in there at the same time. They did the best they could under the circumstances, but my husband and I were blown away to see the differences at the hospice unit in Montreal.
“Every person there was specially trained to work with palliative care patients. We were provided all kinds of support from volunteers, nurses, doctors, psychologists available to the family members, volunteers would play music on Thursdays. It was totally amazing.”
With these two experiences in mind, Power says a hospice unit would be a vital step in improving the health care and comfort available to the central region.
“The contrast was like night and day, to see what can happen when you have a proper hospice care situation,” she said. “If we could get the Lionel Kelland Hospice open and provide that kind of care to people it would be fantastic.”
In recent weeks, Bradley has travelled the region presenting to town councils in Springdale, Botwood, Bishop’s Falls, Lewisporte and others.
Bringing a PowerPoint slideshow to the presentations, he says the reaction has been overwhelmingly supportive from each area.
“The thing I appreciate the most is one or more councillors always have an experience they can relate — everybody believes this is needed,” said Bradley. “We’ll continue to raise awareness of this project and hopefully people will see the need to put pressure when it is required.”
Mayor Dave Edison of Springdale says the town will do whatever they can to help support future work of Lionel Kelland Hospice.
“It’s certainly a good move for this region that could serve the population well,” he said. “The board of directors are heading in the right direction with it, so anything we can do to help promote it, we’ll do that as a town.”
With an aging demographic across much of central, Gloria Young with the 50+ Club in Botwood that a high-quality palliative unit is urgently needed.
“Every family at some time will have to face something like this,” Young said. “I think everybody deserves to spend their last days in comfortable surroundings, rather than a hospital setting.
“It’s badly needed in our area.”
Once funding is acquired, the board would then move forward with getting final architectural designs completed, go to tender for the construction work and finally have the unit completed and open to the public.
While there is still a considerable road ahead, Bradley hopes 2019 will be a major step forward in bringing Lionel Kelland Hospice to service.
“This is about what happens at the end of life,” said Bradley. “Nobody wants to contemplate that situation, but when it happens we would all appreciate the opportunity to make sure the life of that person is of good quality.
“At that time quantity is not a possibility, it’s the quality of life that is really important.”