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Hospice community draws strength, energy from change: MacLaren

Honoured at the Hospice Community Meeting Wednesday, were: Pam Noxon, Jean Algar, Karen Chapman,  Moira Creighton, Carolyn and Al St. Pierre.

Honoured at the Hospice Community Meeting Wednesday, were: Pam Noxon, Jean Algar, Karen Chapman, Moira Creighton, Carolyn and Al St. Pierre.

Following a tumultous year, Hospice Prince Edward is moving forward.

Sharing Margaret Mead’s popular quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has” Stephanie MacLaren, interim executive director, said she can’t think of anything more apt to describe her experience over the past few months.

Following the resignation of founding executive director Nancy Parks, a community meeting hosted by volunteers made clear they would continue to support hospice, but would not step into the roles of personal support workers and nurses and demanded that 24-hour care be returned by the Community Care Access Centre. That meeting was followed by resignations of board members and the interim director. MacLaren’s expertise was on loan from the Prince Edward Family Health Team.

“In the process of change, dissatisfaction is a great starting point, for it is right there that we have the most power, strength and energy to allow change to flourish,” she said.

“At a time when working in and navigating the health care system can feel like an overwhelmingly bureaucratic adventure, Hospice Prince Edward staff and volunteers are here to bring the humanity back to our experience as patients, families and health care providers. I am heartened by the work that is done in our community to this end and the support that patients and loved ones receive during their end of life journey.”

MacLaren is leaving both organizations at month’s end for a position with the hospice in Haliburton.

Board president Birgit Langwisch called the year one of challenges, and of new possibilities.

“The board is made up of volunteers and I honour the commitment they have made to serve hospice and our community. I see this same deep commitment in all of our volunteers – whether they provide home visiting services, or support to patients and their families in the residential hospice; whether they help us raise much-needed funds, help mow the lawn, weed the garden, work in the office or fold laundry. They all make a difference in the world.”

Mowing the lawn, trimming, sweeping and watering are the tasks taken on by Al and Carolyn St. Pierre, who were honoured Wednesday as Hospice Community Supporters; along with Scott Wentworth, for landscaping expertise and BMO Picton staff who took on the roll of major sponsors for the Hike for Hospice.

Pam Noxon was presented the 2015 Spirit of Hospice Award.

“Pam’s success at hospice can be attributed to her inherent emotional intelligence and relaxed nature that allows her to perform well in many roles,” said Melissa Dunnett, services manager. “She very purposely builds hospice and grief education into her ever growing arsenal of tools she shares with her colleagues. Couple that with openness, integrity, enthusiasm, wit and a keen ability to make you feel like everything you say to her is truly heard, Pam exudes hospice spirit.”

Dunnett, who is also leaving hospice to return to her home on the East Coast, also introduced Jean Algar, the 2015 June Callwood Circle of Outstanding Volunteers Award winner and acknowledged her 20 years service with hospice. Noxon was honoured for five years service, along with Karen Giraudy, Alida Robertson and Muriel Thibert. Moira Creighton was recognized for 15 years of service.

Hospice served 111 clients over the past year in the palliative outreach program and 82 people in the residential hospice, since 2013.

Karen Chapman, whose husband Eric, was cared for at Hospice, spoke about their end-of-life journey and expressed sincere thanks to the organization and its volunteers.

“Eric’s son Steve drove up from Peterborough to be with his dad at hospice… and thus began an enlightenment he never knew existed… From the moment we entered Prince Edward Hospice we were treated with respect and warmth that cannot easily be put into words. Those of you who have had the experience know what I mean. They were angels in our eyes… Hospice is community, like a family with a feel-at-home setting. I cannot say enough good things about Hospice, the care and the support.”

She noted that young people need their sports facilities, others need their entertainment venues. “But more importantly, elderly and terminally ill persons need a place to live out their last days with their friends and loved ones where love, respect and peace don’t have to be spoken. It emanates. We are so fortunate to have Hospice Prince Edward.”

A call for more board members and for applications for the executive director position has been made.

Over the winter, the residential hospice will create a tribute wall honouring volunteers who have passed, honouring their memory in the spirit and dedication of loyal and compassionate volunteers”. The first four to be honoured are Linda Jackson, John Della Bosca, Madeline Mulkeen and Robert Willard.

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