Huron Shores Hospice celebrates opening of first suite



By Barb McKay


After more than five years of rigorous planning, fundraising and cutting through red tape, the Huron Shores Hospice suite at Tiverton Park Manor is ready to offer quality end-of-life care to those who need it most.


The grand opening ceremony, held last Wednesday, was emotional for members of the hospice steering committee, particularly chair Cheryl Cottrill who, along with Peggy Zeppieri and Joan Eaglesham, brought the concept of providing community residential hospice care to fruition.


“Thank you to everyone for stepping up in a big way to share our dream of offering quality end-of-life care to our community,” she said. “Today, we celebrate this success with you. Almost every donation from $10 to $90,000 came with a story about a family member’s stay in a residential hospice in another community or the need for residential hospice in our community told by families who felt they needed more support while their loved one was dying.”


The road to completing the first phase of Huron Shores Hospice – the one-bed suite – has been a long and grueling one. Despite no promise of provincial funding for a residential hospice, the committee still required government approval to move forward. It had to demonstrate a need for a hospice, prove that the economic base exists to sustain a residential hospice and prove that there is the expertise to operate it.


Cottrill, Zeppieri and Eaglesham spent several years educating themselves about the requirements of operating a residential hospice, the government approval process and how they could best meet the need in the community. They spoke with administrators from hospices in the region and palliative care providers and toured hospices already operational.


In the past year and a half, the steering committee has expanded to 14 individuals who have expertise and a passion for volunteering. Dr. Damian Gunaratne is serving as the medical director after receiving additional training in palliative care. Carol Rencheck and Cathy Herbert were next to join the board, followed by Moniek Geene as treasurer, Cathy Sprague, Erika Verret, Kylie Pyke, Linda Bowers, Liz Dillman, Marlene Morrow, Maryellen Pollard and Teri Leslie.


Last year, Huron Shores Hospice received its charitable status number and held several successful fundraisers. Those events, along with corporate sponsorships and private donations, including at least $94,000 from Duncan and Lesley Hawthorne, raised more than $400,000 – enough to cover start up costs and two years of operational expenses for the hospice suite. It also provides a head start on fundraising for the second suite at Tiverton Park Manor.


The suite will be staffed by Tiverton Park Manor, along with volunteers who have received training.


This would not be happening without the support of Colleen, Paul and Duncan Hamann at Tiverton Park Manor,” Cottrill said. “They have been committed to seeing the hospice open in their space since the first time we chatted with them and I want to thank them for their dedication to the project and for their patience over the past few weeks as we invaded their space to do renovations on the suite. We look forward to a very positive and long partnership providing quality end-of-life care to our community.”


Huron Shores Hospice will partner with the VON to recruit, train and schedule volunteers who will provide care to residents in the suite.


Numerous sponsors, dignitaries, donors and volunteers were on hand for the grand opening last week.


“This is a much-needed project,” said Mayor Anne Eadie. “When I toured the suite I thought of my dad. This would have been great to have before he passed away.


“I would especially like to thank Cheryl and all the committee members for all their hard work…This is the best example of communities working together. I’m quite confident that phase two, with all the community support, will just roar ahead.”


“I want to share the pride and respect I have for these ladies and for the board,” said Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson. “Where there’s a will there’s a way forward. Sometimes you just need government to get out of the way to get things going. You led with your hearts and as a result the community is so much stronger.”


“Thanks very much to everyone involved – it takes a lot of generous people and organizations to make this happen,” said Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb. “Certainly there is a need. We want to make sure that governments at all levels recognize that everyone deserves to have an end of life that is dignified.”


Bruce Power was the first corporate sponsor to get behind the hospice and so far has contributed $85,000.


“This journey started five years ago and it has finally come to fruition,” said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power President and CEO. “We are so proud of the work you have done. I’m looking forward to phase two.”


There are several corporate sponsors who donated thousands of dollars to the project, as well as businesses and individuals who gave given in-kind donations.


Efforts will continue this year to raise money for a second residential hospice suite at Tiverton Park Manor. A Hike for Hospice will be held May 12 at the Davidson Centre. The second annual Handbags for Hospice fundraiser will be held Sept. 20.