The location of what will soon be Elgin County’s new hospice was unveiled Wednesday during a news conference in St. Thomas.
The planned 10-bed, 16,000-square-foot hospice, set to be completed in March 2023, will be located along South Edgeware Road at the top of the hill leading into St. Thomas’ Waterworks Park, officials with Hospice of Elgin and the city said.
“On behalf of the City of St. Thomas and our council and the administration, we wanted to make sure this would work for Elgin and St. Thomas, and we believe we’ve done what we can,” St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston told those in attendance near the planned site.
According to Hospice of Elgin, which is owned by St. Joseph’s Health Care Society — the same organization which owns St. Joseph’s Health Care London and St. Joseph’s Hospice London — Elgin is the only region in southwestern Ontario without a hospice.
Local residents needing hospice care currently have to go elsewhere in the province, creating transportation barriers for seniors in rural settings, the organization says.
The planned hospice will provide round-the-clock specialized end-of-life care and care offered at home and in the community, along with a palliative care clinic, caregiver support, grief and bereavement programs, and more.
“Today’s announcement by the City of St. Thomas is a significant gift that will continue and contribute towards our $11 million campaign,” said John Callaghan, president of the hospice development board and former CEO of SJHCS.
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Hospice of Elgin has been fundraising for the project to cover construction, development, equipment, and start-up costs, and a sustainability fund to support five years of operations. The province announced $1.6 million in capital funding toward a hospice in Elgin in September 2019.
Callaghan said design on the planned hospice will begin soon, with construction slated to begin in March 2022, taking about 12 months. Operation of the facility will support at least 30 full-time equivalent jobs.
“Everyone coming together to do their part to make this one piece of health care, which has been lacking in our community for such a long time, come together,” said Jeff Yurek, PC MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London.
“The end result at the end of the day is going to be so immense for the people of this riding. It’s unspeakable.”
With completion of the hospice itself still a ways off, Hospice of Elgin launched a program in September offering free individual counselling to grieving families, caregivers and palliative patients.
Counselling from the program is provided by a registered psychotherapist either over the phone or online, funded by the Aylmer Community Foundation.
More information, and information on how to donate to the campaign, can be found on the Hospice of Elgin website.