Huron Residential Hospice opens west of Clinton - May 10, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
The culmination of years of hard work and determination came to fruition on Sunday with the grand opening of the Huron Residential Hospice just west of Clinton.
Daryl Ball of the hospice’s fundraising committee emceed the day, which included the annual Hike for Hospice and a pig roast lunch. He said that the day represented years of volunteer work by a list of people too long to name.
He said that his family has been in Huron County since 1848, creating the Ball’s Bridge and Ball’s Cemetery. He said he sees the hospice as the same investment of time with the same longevity. The hospice will be serving the community for over 100 years as well, he said, just as the bridge and the cemetery have been.
Dr. Agnes Kluz of Seaforth will act in the Medical Director role at the hospice alongside her mentor Dr. Denise Marshall, who first intrigued Kluz with discussion about palliative care.
Kluz spoke to approximately 400 in attendance and said that when she first heard Marshall speak at a conference, she knew that she wanted to care for patients when their end of life came.
Marshall, Kluz said, presented statistics, maps and graphs only to tell those in attendance that 100 per cent of the people mentioned were going to die, meaning that end-of-life care was everybody’s business.
That frankness and honesty, Kluz said, made her take notice and she has been working to provide care and comfort to patients at the end of their lives for years since.
She said she was honoured to be sharing the Medical Director role at the hospice with Marshall.
Marshall, who works with McMaster University, owns property in Huron County and hopes to bring her skills to the newly-established hospice as well.
As a Strathroy native, Marshall said that she knew how important it is to have facilities like the Huron Residential Hospice in rural communities. She said she was pleased to be able to share her talents with the people of Huron County through the hospice.
Dr. Paul Gill, a representative of the Southwest Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and a Goderich doctor also spoke, saying he was happy for the volunteers for the hospice and all that they’ve accomplished.
The Huron Residential Hospice is now the 48th hospice facility in the province and the 16th in a rural community.
Rick Firth, president and CEO of Hospice Palliative Care Ontario, said that the value of a hospice is multiplied in a rural community, where it can become a meeting place and rallying point for the community.
Huron County Warden and Central Huron Mayor Jim Ginn brought greetings on behalf of his county and his municipality, saying that he was proud to host the hospice in his home community just down the road from his home.
He said he remembered those early conversations with Kathy O’Reilly and Shirley Dinsmore, co-chairs of the Huron County Hospice Palliative Care Steering Committee. Ginn said he and his councillors immediately knew it was a good idea and something that could be important to the community, but he also knew that it was a tall order in terms of fundraising.
He congratulated all of the volunteers on their hard work and for seeing the initiative through to the opening of the facility.
The house, which is on a spacious rural lot on Highway 8 just west of Clinton, was purchased last year the conversion process began. It includes four rooms and a number of meeting and living spaces.
O’Reilly said the process began when the steering committee held an informational meeting in Clinton several years ago and over 100 attended, showing their passion and interest in end-of-life care.
From there, she said, the journey hasn’t always been smooth, but the volunteers have worked hard and persisted, resulting in the establishment of the Huron Residential Hospice, which has now officially opened.
Once the will of the community was gauged, a report was commissioned to establish the best spot for the hospice. Meanwhile, a determined group in Exeter forged ahead with Jessica’s House, despite the report eventually stating that the best location for a county hospice would be in the Clinton area.
In the months since, both projects have gone ahead and the Huron Residential Hospice will be working with the Perth branch of the hospice, which is in Stratford, to ensure efficiency and the best use of resources.
For more information on the hospice, visit huronhospice.ca.