As Jim McPherson visited his friend, Larry Kemshead, in palliative care at Red Deer Regional Hospital, holding his hand and sharing a quiet moment, his friend asked when he’d be going to Hospice.
“But there could be no Hospice for my dear friend; there was no room,” McPherson says.
It was with stories like that – people like that – that Red Deer Hospice Society embarked on its $5.2-million expansion project a year ago. This November, on time and budget, they will begin to share with the community, a renovated, expanded space that includes more palliative care beds as well as new spaces and amenities for residents and families.
“Hospice is extremely important to our community,” says McPherson, chair of the Expansion Fundraising Committee. “And we’re so appreciative of the community’s support. Even though we’re going through some trying times, we’re half-way to our goal and we are going to keep working to get there.”
As one of only three residential hospices in Alberta, Red Deer Hospice regularly operates at 90 per cent capacity, meaning many families were turned away for lack of beds.
The expansion means that need will be a little easier to meet.
The hospice has remained open and operational throughout the renovations, says Wendi Ronspies, chair of the Red Deer Hospice Board of Directors. “Our staff, volunteers, residents and their families have been amazing through a year of construction.”
The previous 10-room hospice has grown by 15,000 sq.ft. over three floors. The expansion will provide room for six additional beds – allowing them to welcome about 100 more residents each year – and so much more.
For every resident who comes to Red Deer Hospice, another five friends and family members come through the doors or benefit from programs such as grief support or check-in phone calls, meaning another 5,000 people will be supported.
The expansion also includes an expanded kitchen, medication room and nursing station, and multi-purpose areas for education opportunities, respite care and day programs. There’s dedicated storage for medical supplies and equipment, records and event materials, dedicated family gathering spaces and quiet areas, and renewed sanctuary space.
How can you help?
There is no cost to patients for Hospice services, Ronspies notes. “Nobody is ever denied care due to a financial situation.”
While Alberta Health Services has committed to increasing funding to support operations, this funding does not cover any capital costs associated with the expansion. All expansion construction costs, and the remaining operational costs, must be funded by donations.
“Red Deer Hospice is community-driven and the expansion is community-driven. It fills such an important role here,” Ronspies shares.
From direct donations to gifts in memory of a loved one, or legacy gifts, everything makes a difference, and donors can direct their contributions to the expansion or resident care, if they prefer.
The expansion also brings the need for new volunteers to join the 125 who do everything from greeting and directing visitors to baking, Ronspies says. However you’re able to help, it’s all appreciated!
For more information, call 403-309-4344 or visit online to donate today!