By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
A Close to Home campaign to build Saskatchewan’s first stand-alone residential hospice and strengthen other elements of palliative care in the community has now surpassed its $20-million goal.
A donation of $1 million from Jim and Lisa Yuel and daughters Neli and Taya was part of an announcement by St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation May 12, held online because of COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings. During the virtual event, organizers and leaders of the Close to Home campaign also announced that the campaign goal has now been reached and surpassed.
“We are thrilled to announce that with this remarkable gift, we are now able to effectively mark the completion of the Close to Home Campaign for Hospice and End-of-life Care,” said Foundation CEO Lecina Hicke.
Since the campaign was officially launched in January 2019, St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation has raised some $20,954,000 for four “pillars” of the Close to Home vision: construction of the Hospice at Glendarda in Saskatoon; renovations and upgrading at the 30-year-old existing palliative care unit at St. Paul’s Hospital; establishment of an educational endowment for palliative care training; and the creation of a holistic care endowment to support spiritual care, bereavement care and healing arts for those journeying through end-of-life.
“As a family we have had occasion to spend time at the Palliative Care Unit in St. Paul’s Hospital,” said donor Jim Yuel during the online event. “The service there is fantastic, and the attention to the patients is unbelievable. However, for patients who might need a longer time in care at end-of-life, a facility like the Hospice at Glengarda would be wonderful. We are very pleased to help contribute to that success.”
Other speakers included SPH Foundation Board Chair Neil Weber, Honourary Campaign Co-Chairs Gene and Adele Dupuis, Campaign Co-Chairs Todd Rosenberg and Dr. Vivian Walker, St. Paul’s Hospital Executive Director Tracy Muggli, and Jean Morrison, President and CEO of Emmanuel Health and St. Paul’s Hospital.
“I am thrilled, I am grateful, and frankly, I am humbled by our community’s remarkable support of our mission,” said Morrison.
Two community advocates who came forward to personally share their stories during the campaign were also recognized during the online event: Gord Engel (who died of cancer in April 2019) and Celine Schlosser (whose husband Carl journeyed through end of life at the palliative care unit at St. Paul’s Hospital). “Gord and Celine helped us to foster a critical appreciation for accessible and compassionate end of life care, highlighting the idea that care for those facing end of life extends to family and friends,” said Hicke.
Jean Morrison, President and CEO of Emmanuel Health (which owns 12 Catholic health facilities spread across Saskatchewan) reflected on how the Close to Home campaign priorities continue the Catholic health care mission to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in society.
“St. Paul’s Hospital continues to be the bearer of the legacy of its founders, the Grey Nuns, under the leadership of St. Marguerite d’Youville some 100 years ago,” she said. “St. Paul’s Hospital has been pursuing the dream of a hospice since we opened the palliative care unit in 1990.”
She continued: “Throughout this journey we have been listening to our health care providers, stakeholders, community organizations, patients, families and loved ones, and through these conversations, we designed a thoughtful, comfortable and soothing hospice and we will provide compassionate care to all those who enter our doors.”
Morrison also reported on progress and plans for the four elements of the Close to Home campaign to enhance end-of-life care in the community.
Construction is well underway at the Hospice at Glengarda, the former Ursuline residence in the 300 block of Hilliard Street in south east Saskatoon, across the street from St. Francis Xavier parish. “We are currently on target to complete the project later this fall,” Morrison reported.
“Our second priority (was) undertaking crucial renovations to the palliative care unit at St. Paul’s Hospital, a unit that will continue to play an important role in quality end-of-life care in Saskatchewan. I am happy to report that this construction has actually been completed,” she said.
“Priority three (is) the development of a palliative care education fund to ensure our health care personnel have access to excellent training and education in end-of-life care,” Morrison continued.
“Finally, our fourth priority is to set up endowments that will set up support for the ongoing delivery of holistic care services. with the help of St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation’s fundraising efforts, we can build on the funding from the government of Saskatchewan and offer important holistic services such as spiritual care and bereavement support, as well as healing arts therapies. These programs and practitioners are critical components in a comprehensive, integrative palliative care service, providing holistic care, allowing us to live up to our practise of caring for the mental, the physical, and the spiritual well being of individuals and their families.”
As a leader in palliative care, St. Paul’s Hospital has worked for years to build a hospice, Morrison noted, as she announced that Samaritan Place, a Catholic care home organization in the Stonebridge neighbourhood of Saskatoon under Emmanuel Health, will be the operators of the new Hospice at Glengarda.
She then thanked all who have played a role in the Close to Home campaign and the development of the Hospice at Glengarda.
Read more or view the announcement video at www.closetohome.fund.