New Brunswick

Hospices needed provincewide: doctor

New Brunswick's first residential hospice is set to open next month in Saint John, but health-care professionals in Moncton say the need for such facilities is critical across the province.

Saint John facility a step in right direction, say experts

New Brunswick's first residential hospice is set to open next month in Saint John, but health-care professionals in Moncton say the need for such facilities is critical across the province.

Pam Mansfield, president of the New Brunswick Hospice Palliative Care Association, said everyone has the right to die in a dignified and comfortable environment. That is something a residential hospice can offer, she said.

Hospice Greater Saint John's Bobby's Hope House opened as a daytime facility in 2006. It is scheduled to start providing around-the-clock care this fall.

The Horizon Health Network looked at the acute care beds at the Moncton hospital last year and determined there is a need in that city, too.

Eight-bed facility

"We would be able to support eight beds in a hospice facility. These are patients that have a terminal illness and cannot be cared for at home any longer, but at the same time they don't need the acute care of a hospital," Mansfield said.

Bobby's House is the only hospice organization in the province that receives provincial funding.

The other hospice organizations are run by volunteers who raise money and apply for grants to cover costs.

Mansfield said funding hospices could save health care money. Patients who have a terminal illness do not qualify for nursing home care, so the only place for them is in hospital, where overcrowding is already an issue, she said.

"If you look at how much it costs for a hospice bed, it's about $300 a day compared to a hospital bed, which is about $1,000 a day," Mansfield said.

"For patients who are no longer needing acute care,  it makes a lot of dollars and sense to go into hospice care."

Lydia Underhill, the executive director of Hospice Greater Moncton, said that so far, the organization's work has been providing volunteer support in homes and providing counselling for grief and bereavement.

Underhill said because all of their funding is provided through donations, fundraising and grants, there would be a lot of work to do to create a residential hospice.

"This fall, we will be formalizing our business plan and then launching a capital campaign.  I know that we are looking at — I don't have the exact numbers, but at least $1 million," she said.

Underhill said they are hoping to have a residential hospice open in Moncton in two to four years, but would be thrilled to see it happen sooner.

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