Residents of the Comox Valley will soon have access to community-level hospice services with a new four-bed hospice space at The Views now under construction and on target for a mid 2015 opening.

“Hospice care is a vital part of the range of programs that support individuals and their families who are dealing with end-of-life care and support for a loved one, and these new spaces in the Comox Valley will allow local residents to get hospice care and supports closer to home,” said Don McRae, MLA for the Comox Valley. “Our government is committed to expanding hospice space in British Columbia, including on Vancouver Island, to improve access to the safe, welcoming and compassionate environments that hospice care provides.”

Eric MacDonald is the Vice President of Finance and Corporate Services at St. Joe’s Hospital and he was on hand for today’s official ceremony to mark the start of construction.

MacDonald was asked by Goat News whether officials feel the old hospital, about to be replaced by a new state of the art Courtenay hospital in 2017, is ultimately getting a new lease on life as a hospice facility.

The new hospice service and beds are a community partnership involving the Province of B.C., which provided a grant of $250,000 to the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation to help support these infrastructure improvements; St. Joseph’s Hospital/The Views residential care facility, Island Health, which will provide annual ongoing operational funding; and the Comox Valley Hospice Society which, through community donations, will be providing supports and counselling to clients and their families. In addition, the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation and the Comox Valley Hospice Society have been, and continue to, fundraise for capital construction, furnishing and equipment that will create a warm and welcoming hospice environment.

“Island Health is proud to be part of the partnership that is bringing this important service to the community,” said Don Hubbard, Board Chair, Island Health. “Opening these four beds in 2015 and a further two beds in 2018 is part of our commitment to doubling the number of hospice spaces to 64 by 2020 to ensure high-quality, accessible end-of-life services and supports throughout our service area.”

Following a design and planning process that involved community participation, renovations to create the new hospice bed space in The Views are now well underway. In addition, a clinical operations working group is working behind the scenes to establish how the new hospice service will operate, including developing procedures, admission criteria and eligibility requirements that will become a model across Vancouver Island.

“On an average day St. Joseph’s Hospital has around four palliative patients with even more palliative patients being supported in their homes,” said Chris Kelsey, Board Chair, St. Joseph’s General Hospital. “While many patients prefer to die at home, there are patients and their families who need the support of trained personnel and the resources of a hospice service, and we are looking forward to providing this high quality service to local residents.”

In order to create a distinct hospice space within The Views with private rooms (and bathrooms) for both the patient and their family, eight complex (residential) care beds moved from The Views to the Comox Valley Seniors’ Village in early December. Each of the four new hospice rooms will have ocean and/or garden views and the whole hospice service will have a separate main entrance.

“The Comox Valley Hospice Society has long been an advocate and supporter of a full continuum of hospice care for the people of the Comox Valley,” said Audrey Craig, President of the Comox Valley Hospice Society. The availability of residential hospice care at The Views will offer more choice for people in our community to make a decision about the kind of end-of-life care they wish to receive and the Comox Valley Hospice Society is extremely pleased to partner in this effort to fully support people who are dying as well as their loved ones and caregivers.”

Mr. Allan Greene, President, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation said, “After all of the generous contributions from the community, it is extremely gratifying to see the realization of this residential hospice service.”