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Support for Hospice continues despite slow LHIN process

Hospice Prince Edward Board president Birgit Langwisch

While the wheels at the South East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) turn slowly, Hospice Prince Edward will explore interim plans to move toward its goal of creating a community residential home in the County.
Following a year of planning, presentations and reports from local and outside agencies, the SELHIN notified Hospice Prince Edward this month that it will be holding off on making any residential hospice funding decisions until a review of “hospice service sustainability in the region” is completed.
“That’s expected to be finalized by February 2013,” Board president Birgit Langwisch told members and friends at the Hospice Prince Edward annual general meeting, Thursday. “Like many of you, I am tired of waiting. We want, need and deserve this kind of end-of-life care in our community. Last week, even before we received notice of this review, our board met to do some strategic thinking and planning – wanting to cover all our bases, no matter how long the funding decision might take.”
The meeting, she said, unveiled an interim plan to work with other agencies (such as Community Care Access Centre and the PE Family Health Team) to devise innovative ways to deliver residential hospice care while they await the SELHIN funding.
“We don’t know exactly what this ‘plan B’ will look like yet,” said Langwisch. “But if you know of someone who has a location that might be suitable for residential hospice beds – even one or two – and wants to donate space, now is the time to let us know that. We are open to possibility.”
Hospice will also ask its members and friends to participate in a letter campaign urging strong support for the project.
“We know that we can count on you. You have made that utterly clear and we want you to know that you can count on us to keep going every step of the way along our residential hospice path until we achieve what this community has told us with their words, and their dollars, that they desire.”

In November, County council approved, in principle, a proposal from Hospice Prince Edward to turn Benson Hall in Picton into a residential hospice facility to provide end-of-life care on a 24-hour basis, by professional staff and volunteers in a home-like setting at no cost to the client.
The residential hospice represents a community-based initiative between multiple partners — the municipality, Hospice Prince Edward, the Picton Rotary Club, the Family Health Team, Quinte Health Care, individual donors and many community volunteers.
With funding from the SELHIN, Trillium Foundation, and a variety of fundraising activities and the generosity of citizens, Hospice Prince Edward provided services free of charge in 2010-2011 to 189 people.

In May, organizers had hoped to raise $15,000 during Hospice Prince Edward’s first Hike for Hospice and witnessed the community collect more than $52,000. In June, more than 800 County residents raised their coffee cups in support of Hospice Prince Edward and gathered $22,500 toward the development of the facility during the first Largest Coffee Morning held in about 50 homes, churches and coffee shops.

“We have come a long way this year toward our goal,” said Langwisch. “Over and over again this past year I have felt so proud and so humbled, at the same time, to be living out our vision – Supporting the journey of living with dying – and to be living it out with the talented and committed people in this community.”

In May, the LHIN told hospice it was awaiting information in two reports – one commissioned by the LHIN itself and once by the Ministry of Health through Hospice Palliative Care Ontario.

“Right now, the Ministry of Health and our SELHIN have those two reports in hand,” said Langwisch. “The first, written by the South Eastern Ontario Palliative and End-of-Life Care Network, is an excellent document and is now posted on our website. It lays out a clear, evidence-based rationale of the need for residential homes in our region and also recommends a phased-in implementation plan for meeting that need. We are thrilled that our project is named as part of the first wave (year one) in the implementation timeline 2012-2013 ‘pending our readiness and the approval of our business case’ by the LHIN and the Network.

“The other report, The Rural Residential Hospice Report, lays the groundwork for smaller, rural hospices that meet the standards set by Hospice Palliative Care Ontario to receive the same funding already in place for urban 10-bed residential hospices. This is great news for us because it levels the playing field and just as important, this report also recommends our project be funded.”

Hospice Prince Edward Executive Director Nancy Parks, earlier this year, was appointed to the newly created Rural Residential Hospice Working Group created by the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario Association to guide development of rural residential hospice models for rural communities.

At Thursday’s meeting, Mary Camp, Robert Cowan and Anne Wait were welcomed to the board of Hospice Prince Edward, joining Stacey Hatch, Linda Jackson, Bob McKittrick, Joscelyn Matthewman, Linda Middleton, Debbie MacDonald Moynes and Langwisch.

Members and guests watched five new information videos that will soon be launched on the Hospice Prince Edward website in conjunction with a newspaper campaign in conjunction with hospices in Quinte and Kingston.

Support of Hospice continues with a $2 donation campaign at Sobey’s in Picton from Oct. 1-7; the annual Shred-A-Thon Oct. 27 at Home Hardware and the first Gala for Hospice – Autumn Leaves – set for Nov. 17 at the Wellington Community Centre. Tickets for the gala available by contacting co-chairs Dr. Joshua and Que Colby at or the Hospice Prince Edward Office at 476-2181 x 4253.

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