Providing palliative care in our community began in 1985 with local Registered Nurse Edie Wesbrook developing a volunteer visiting palliative care program. The Renfrew Palliative Care Team, a group of dedicated professionals, met weekly to coordinate support for terminally ill people whether they were in hospital, at home or in long-term care facilities. Chaired by palliative care nurse co-ordinator Connie Legg the team included Dr. Arthur Dick, Dr. Stephanie Langlois, local pharmacists, community nurses, CCAC representation, and members of our local clergy.
The team’s main tasks were palliative care education, pain and symptom management, patient and family support and volunteer programs. A Renfrew Palliative Care Manual, developed by the team and adopted across the Champlain region, gained national attention at the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care conference.
In carrying out their work the palliative team realized that terminally-ill people were dying in hospital not by choice, but because there were few alternatives for end-of-life care. Our community needed a residential hospice.
The first Hospice Renfrew Board of Directors comes from a group of over 50 interested citizens who attend a public meeting to assess interest in a residential hospice. Work begins behind the scenes five years before we will be able to open our doors. The effort, commitment and dedication of so many volunteers enable Hospice Renfrew to be at first envisioned and ultimately built and launched.
The Hospice Board submits a proposal to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for funding for a six bed residential hospice. Limited operational funding is approved, but all capital costs have to be raised by the community.
The Care, Comfort and Compassion campaign, headed by project manager Margo Turpin, successfully raises 1.3 million dollars to build Hospice. Local contractors and skilled craftsmen led by the project management team of M. Sullivan and Son follow a Habitat for Humanity type concept where much of the labour, materials, equipment and furnishings are donated by members of our community. A loan from Infrastructure Ontario completes the funding requirements so we can proceed.
In May Hospice Renfrew participates in its first and very successful ‘Hike for Hospice’ raising $46,000 to add to other donations from our community.
Hospice Renfrew is the first rural residential hospice in Ontario and precisely built to Hospice Palliative Care standards. Hospice admits its first resident on January 28.
Executive Director Diane Caughey works closely with Board Chair Jim MacKillican to ensure that Hospice provides exemplary care to its residents and their families. Dr. Arthur Dick assumes the position of Medical Advisor, who along with Dr. Stephanie Langlois provides palliative care referrals as needed. A carefully selected nursing staff and personal support workers along with a team of trained volunteers provide comfort and support to residents and families.
Care, Comfort and Compassion are the founding principles of our Hospice and continue to this day to guide the model of care we deliver.