The reality is that every day – someone, somewhere is given a terminal diagnosis. Yet in many cases, people don’t realize they need a hospice until they do.
In Saskatoon, however, options are pretty limited when it comes to end-of-life care. There is no physical facility for patients to go to if they want to die with dignity while surrounded by family.
That is until now.
St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation has launched a new $20 million campaign for a centre. An impressive $14.5 million has already been raised.
Gord Engel of Saskatoon was at the announcement on Wednesday. The 46-year-old father of four moved others to tears as his story played on the big screen.
The only thing certain in life, is we’re all going to die, but for Engel,s that news came far sooner than expected.
“They identified that there was a concern and that the cancer had already metastasized to my liver and to my lungs,” Engel said.
The “Close to Home Campaign for Hospice and End-of-life Care” is for those without a cure. Ground-breaking on the facility will start this spring at 301 Hilliard St., with plans for a 15-bed hospice set to be operational by 2020.
It will address the needs of people who have life-limiting illnesses but without the bright lights or beeping machines of a hospital setting.
“As a province, as a community, we just haven’t discovered that this is an appropriate care at end of life,” Bruce Acton, St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation CEO, said.
The hospital site already tries to accommodate patients wanting a peaceful passing with its Palliative Care Unit but it’s hoped this centre might be more appropriate.
“It’s for those folks that are really close to end of life that need that great amount of care but can’t stay at home,” said Jean Morrison, president and CEO of St. Paul’s Hospital.
The Prairie Hospice Society said it was pleased to hear about this additional option. It won’t replace the work they are doing, but rather the two will complement each other in helping to support the needs of patients in the area.
“It’s something that many people in Saskatoon and at Prairie Hospice have advocated for – for many years,” said Barbara Jiricka, a board member with Prairie Hospice.
“We’re one of the last cities our size in canada without a residential hospice so it’s good news.”
With more than 100 volunteers at Prairie Hospice, there are currently 65 patients in their care on their journey of goodbye.
Since 2013, the society has assisted 350 people ranging in age from 18 months to 103 who sometimes wish to die at home – but not everyone can.
“You need trained professionals to care of you, but you still want to be home,” Engel said.
For Gord, the experience of dying in a hospice isn’t just about the patient but it’s also for the people that will go on living.