By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
Catholic Saskatoon News – Years of planning culminated in a ceremonial sod-turning celebration May 28, 2019 for Saskatchewan’s first free-standing hospice, a project of St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon and Emmanuel Health.
The 15-bed Hospice at Glengarda will be built on the site of the former Ursulines of Prelate Glengarda residence in southeast Saskatoon as part of a $20-million Close to Home fund-raising campaign by St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation.
During the May 28, 2019 ground breaking ceremony, Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic diocese of Saskatoon blessed the site, and a number of partners brought greetings and messages of thanksgiving and support. A $2 million gift to the Close to Home campaign by Les and Irene Dubé was also announced.
Moving testimony about what the Hospice at Glengarda will mean to patients and families at the end of life was provided by patient advisor Delores Wolfe, who is one of those who has given input into the design and operation of the new facility.
“As to what the hospice means to me, when I am nearing my death, I do not have the support or resources that will enable me to die at home, although I would love to do so. I know that many of our health care institutions do a commendable job of caring for the dying, but I would prefer to die in a more homelike setting,” she said.
She described the vision for the Hospice at Glengarda: “Here, a dying person (which one day will be me), can find a second home. Here my pain and other physical symptoms will be managed by a physican and staff who are trained and experienced in caring for the dying. Here there will be familiar, home-like sounds and sights and smells, like the smell of cookies baking in the oven, the sound of a child’s voice, the comfort of a pet’s visit, the opportunity to gaze at a fire in the fireplace and the relaxation of soaking in a tub,” Wolfe described.
“Here addressing the spiritual and psychological tasks that I will face when I am dying will be supported in art therapy, in music that stirs emotions and memories, in spiritual care, and in a general environment that encourages me to address these tasks. Here I will know that my loved ones too are receiving what they need, as they care for me as they can. They will have people to turn to with their concerns and their own grieving process.”
Hospice care will help us all to “rediscover the art of dying,” Delores Wolfe added, referencing the title of a book by Sister of Charity and physician Sr. Nuala Kenney. “There are many people like me who would like to die at home but cannot, and many more who – for whatever reason – choose not to, and yet would like to die in a homelike setting rather than an institutional one. The Hospice at Glengarda is a most welcome answer to our desire.”
Among those in the crowd witnessing the official sod turning was Sr. Anne Lewans, OSU. After the celebration, she described how the Ursulines of Prelate are pleased that plans for their former residence to become a residential hospice are now becoming a reality. “This is evidence today that it is finally happening and I am so pleased — and all the sisters are really, really happy that this is the way the residence is going,” she said. “It is a wonderful thing to see it being used for such a purpose. .. today is a great day, it is a really great day.”
Another guest, Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, described the hospice as “a dream come true.”
Enhancing end-of-life care in different ways: A Hospice and MORE
Learn more and donate: Close to Home CAMPAIGN
The event’s MC, Karen Barber, the Executive Director of St. Paul’s Hospital, opened the sod-turning celebration with words of welcome and acknowledgement. “Together we acknowledge the dedicated caregivers, patients, family advisors, physicians and employees who have offered so much of their knowledge, their passion, and their time to help us create a hospice worthy of the many residents and family members who will access this service in their time of need,” she said. “We are grateful to all who have played a role, however large, however seemingly small, from the time a need was recognized and the idea of this hospice was conceived, over a decade ago, to where we are now and where we stand today – some are with us today, some are with us in spirit. To everyone who played a part, we thank you.”
During the program, Emmanuel Health Board Chair David Patola recalled the long-standing involvement of St. Paul’s Hospital in dedicated palliative care.
“Back in 1985, St. Paul’s Hospital pioneered the development of the province’s first Palliative Care Consultation Team followed by the opening of the 12-bed Palliative Care Unit in 1990. As time has passed, conversations to advance end-of-life care continued, with the recognition that there was still more to be done. Under the auspice of Catholic healthcare and the legacy of the Grey Nuns, St. Paul’s Hospital with the support of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, chose to lead the response to an unmet need within our community. That need was an end-of-life hospice.”
In addition to constructing the new Hospice at Glengarda, a Close to Home campaign by the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation includes raising funds to establish Holistic Care Endowments for bereavement care, spiritual care and healing arts therapy for patients and families facing end of life, and a Palliative Care Education Fund to enrich the skills of professional end-of-life caregivers and community members, as well as to undertake needed renovations to the existing Palliative Care Unit at St. Paul’s Hospital.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen brought greetings from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, acknowledging the legacy of religious women in both education and health care, and thanking Emmanuel Health, St. Paul’s Hospital and all of the community partners and donors for their contribution to the project.
“Many of you have heard the adage that the goodness and blessing of a healthy community is often made manifest in how it cares for people at the margins and edges of life,” the bishop said. “But elders (and those who are dying) have a lot to bless the community with as well. I saw that amongst the Dene of the North. Elders have a special power as they are passing from this life on to the next, so I pray and hope that this hospice will be the occasion for our elders not only to experience compassion and excellent care at the sunset of their life, but that the entire community can share in the blessing of this place that our elders pass on to them.”
MLA David Buckingham brought greetings from the premier and the provincial government. “The government of Saskatchewan understands the value of hospice care and is proud to support community-based palliative care programs across the province. That is why in the 2019-20 budget we committed $1.4 million in funding for start up and ongoing development of the Hospice at Glengarda, and will be providing approximately $2.8 million in annual funding to support operations moving forward once this construction is complete,” said Buckingham.
“This is an important investment for Saskatchewan patients in need of hospice support, and those who experience the end of life journey with them. We know that this type of care makes many patients and their families feel more comfortable more cared for and better equipped to manage the difficult and emotional experience of losing a loved one. I have no doubt that the work done here will make a positive difference in the lives of many Saskatchewan families.”
Sharon Garratt, vice-president of Integrated Urban Health and Chief Nursing Officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, also emphasized the benefits of a hospice for patients and families. “When the Hospice at Glengarda is complete, it will support our care teams in providing safe, seamless care for patients and their families during some of the most difficult days in their care journey. As a hospice located in this beautiful residential area, it will also support our provincial commitment to connected care for the people of Saskatchewan.”
Neil Weber, chair of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, introduced donors Les and Irene Dubé whose latest support for health care in the community is a $2-million donation for the construction of the Hospice at Glengarda and for strengthening and enhancing end-of-life care.
“These donors have already contributed more than $5.2 million dollars to St. Paul’s Hospital, and have generously supported the entire spectrum of health care – from the Urology Centre of Health at St. Paul’s Hospital, to the Centre for Mental Health and the Lighthouse – these donors help ensure that no matter what stage of life you are in, from birth to death — you can get the care you need.”
Karen Barber also noted the gift of time and presence that Les and Irene Dubé have provided: “Leslie has served on the St. Paul’s Hospital Board of Directors and acted as CEO for the Hospital during the time when our new B Wing was being developed and built. Irene has made countless blankets for our palliative care unit to help patients feel a little closer to home. They have been with us every step of the way in our progress toward building this hospice.”
Leslie Dubé expressed the couple’s happiness to be witnessing the start of construction of the long-awaited hospice. “We thank God for his love. That is how we got here. We thank Emmanuel Health and each one of you that has believed that this mission can be accomplished.”
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