Hospice celebrates five years
Sep 13, 2013 / 4:00 pm
Five years ago today the Central Okanagan Hospice House opened its doors. Since then it has provided highly regarded end-of-life care to Okanagan residents, their families, friends and loved ones.
Randall Paul lost his wife this time last year. She spent her last few weeks at Hospice House.
“From the first time we visited here to the day she passed away we felt an incredible peace about being here at the hospice. The settings are tranquil warm and beautiful, and they promote healing and wellness for both patients and family members alike,” shares Paul.
Mayor Walter Gray led the team that raised the money to build the Hospice. Little did he know that one year later his brother would be admitted there.
While explaining the passion behind the project and how grateful he was for the care his brother and family received he shared in tears, “It gave me an opportunity to do what I think was the best thing I have done in my life.”
Many would think a building full of people spending the last days of their lives with loved ones would be depressing and heartbreaking but those who spend time there say the opposite.
“I did not find this a depressing place at all, it is a warm and beautiful place, and it was such an important part of the journey we took with my wife,” shared Paul
Head palliative care doctor Dr. Mike Banwell says the building is so much more than sadness.
“Working with the dying makes it hard to practice denial, which is man’s coping behaviour, it’s never going to happen to me…but I meet the most amazing people in this job," says Banwell.
"These people have courage, they teach me things about life that I didn’t know and they teach me about the meaning of life and how to live it to the fullest.”
And for those that have used the hospice the value of such a place in priceless.
“Providing a place where terminally ill people can spend their final days with grace and dignity and leave this world in peace, I think should be a fundamental provision of every society’s health care system,” says Paul.
“First and foremost, it is people who make Hospice House the special place it is,” shares Norman Embree, Interior Health Board Chair.
“From Interior Health staff to nearly 200 volunteers, each person is here to provide compassionate care and support to people and their families facing their end-of-life journey."
But now only five years in Dr. Banwell fears the Hospice may soon run out of space.
“The worry I have is this place is too small, and that is because of something called the ‘grey tsunami.’ Basically baby boomers like me, we are all getting old and as we get old we get chronic diseases, 30% of the hospice admissions are not for terminal cancer but for chronic diseases.," says Banwell.
In its first five years, Central Okanagan Hospice House has provided care to nearly 1,800 patients, and support to their families, friends and loved ones.
“The Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA) has always been proud and honoured to support the work of Interior Health, and value our partnership, by providing our volunteers who offer non-medical end-of-life care,” said Marion Henselwood, President of COHA.
“Through the generosity of our donors, we are committed to serving the needs of clients and their loved ones.”
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