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Bright future for Hospice despite LHIN cloud

Linda Middleton told members and guests at the Hospice Prince Edward Annual General Meeting about her involvement with Hospice and its volunteers while "holding hands in the journey" with a good friend who was able to spend her final days in her own home. She presented scarves, in thanks, to Joscelyn Matthewman, Palliative Care Co-ordinator with the Family Health Team; Heather Campbell, Volunteer Community Visitor and Rev. Audrey Whitney, Service Co-ordinator.

Through an innovative partnership with the Rotary Club of Picton, Hospice Prince Edward hopes to create a Hospice Centre to help County residents spend their final days with dignity and quality, surrounded by loved ones.
“One cloud on the horizon,” said Hospice President Mark Larratt-Smith at the group’s first annual general meeting, is that the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) is studying “economies of scale” to achieve cost savings. Community health agencies in South Eastern Ontario which receive funds from the LHIN would consolidate “back office” services on a regional basis for a standardized delivery of financial, accounting, information technology, human resources and purchasing.”
“Deja-vu” Larratt-Smith said, “in the form of echoes of the grandiose cost-savings claims of the hospitals restructuring commission over a decade ago at the time of the amalgamation of our hospital into Quinte Healthcare Corporation.”
The LHIN currently provides Hospice Prince Edward about $61,000 toward its annual operating budget.
“Such forced participation is hopelessly unrealistic for a community agency such as ours. There may be specific opportunities to achieve benefits in some areas, but we believe these will much more likely be found in co-operation among agencies in each local community rather than through regional agglomerations… Turning volunteers into unpaid regional bureaucrats will simply lead to the collapse of community agencies and the loss of the services that we provide. The end result will be either increased health service costs for the LHIN, or a reduction of service to a very vulnerable sector of our population – or both.”
In the hopes “common sense will prevail” Larratt-Smith said Hospice Prince Edward move forward with partnerships with other health care organizations, a broader involvement with the community and expansion of services.
Work with Picton’s Rotary Club on a Hospice Centre fills all three objectives.
“Picton Rotary Club President Jim Wait and his board communicated to us their own vision of a fundraising campaign to support  just such a residential hospice facility. It has brought fresh enthusiasm and momentum to our planning.
“Our vision is to bring together our services and many of those of our health care partners under one roof in a hospice centre that will deliver seamless care incluidng residential end-of-life and respite care for County residents in a home-like setting and at much lower cost than in an active treatment hospital facility.”
Practical issues to be addressed include finding or building a suitable facility, details of services, funding for construction and ongoing operation.
“Informal discussion identified Benson Hall as a possible location where an existing County owned heritage facility might be rejuvenated into a comfortable setting for patients and their families close to the other Picton-based health services. Undoubtedly there willl be other possibilities that will come forward,” Larratt-Smith said. “We are confident that with the initiative shown by the Picton Rotary Club and with the involvement of many others from the community, we can provide a calm and comforting place for residents of the County and their families to spend their final days of life together.”
Despite the distraction of the LHIN amalgamation initiative, Larratt-Smith congratulated Hospice Prince Edward board members, volunteers and supporters for a productive year.
“We are very proud of Hospice and of the fact that all of our services are provided to those who need them without charge. I believe that we have a bright future ahead of us as we continue to be “neighbours caring for neighbours.”

“You matter because of who you are. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can , not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”
–Dame Cicely Saunders

Hospice, in the earliest days, was a concept rooted in the centuries-old idea of offering a place of shelter and rest, or “hospitality” to weary and sick travelers on a long journey. In 1967, Dame Cicely Saunders at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London first applied the term “hospice” to specialized care for dying patients. Today, hospice care provides humane and compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.

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