KENTVILLE – The province has issued a tender for the construction of a long-sought hospice for end-of-life care in the Annapolis Valley.
Diana Patterson, chairwoman of the Valley Hospice Foundation, the volunteer-run organization that has worked for 18 years to raise funds for the facility, said they are happy to see tenders going out.
“We’re just excited that it’s finally moving along and we’re looking forward to getting started,” Patterson said on Thursday, the day after the tender for the building construction was issued.
She said it’s the second of two tenders, with the first being for landscaping and clearing of the lot near the Valley Regional Hospital and adjacent to Beacon House, which offers programs for young adults dealing with mental illness.
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The province committed to the establishment of the hospice in 2016, with it scheduled to open in 2019.
“There always has been a need for the choice for a person who is on their last, final journey,” Patterson said. “I think most of us would rather die at home — I know I would. But I don’t know, when it comes time and it gets closer to my final journey, whether I would want to be home or not.”
Patterson said the choices at the moment are quite limited, although she lauds the efforts of the palliative care health providers in the Valley.
“Certainly, they’re trying to keep people at home and as comfortable … as they possibly can but a hospice will provide the people who are on that journey a final choice: Do I want to go to the hospital — which they do their very best, I’m not criticizing them at all. I mean, I’ve been a patient there and I certainly appreciate their fine work. But this just provides a patient with an extra choice. A choice for a more comfortable home-like environment rather than a hospital.”
The hospice is more like a home, she said, with a large kitchen, living room and dining room areas that visitors and family will be welcome to use. There will be 10 bedrooms for residents.
Patterson said the hospice foundation has worked tirelessly ro raise funds. They also worked in conjunction with the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation, on a major fundraising campaign called Our Community, Our Health to raise $8 million, mostly from Valley residents.
“So then we started with negotiating with the government and making sure that our project was being designed. Also, we’re part of that design group so we’re still working at it,” she said.
“We’re working hard. The people of the Valley have been very, very supportive of our endeavour and we’re just really pleased that it’s finally coming to fruition, for them and for all of our other donors. It’s been a long journey for us, for sure.”
Patterson gives full credit to community support.
The tree removal tender closes Friday, she said. The building tender closes Sept. 24. The next steps will follow the awarding of the contracts with the physical work to follow depending when the winning bidder can start.
“I would hope to see some movement this fall, for sure,” Patterson said. “The trees coming down are a big step forward but once you get the shovel in the ground, it would be nice to have it started before the winter months arrive.”