Nova Scotia

Annapolis Valley hospice breaks ground in Kentville

After nearly two decades of campaigning and fundraising, dozens of people cheered at the groundbreaking of the Annapolis Valley Hospice in Kentville Friday.

$4M project a reality thanks to community effort

Leo Glavine, Dianna Patterson and Janet Knox use a shovel to break ground on construction of the long-awaited Valley hospice. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

After nearly two decades of campaigning and fundraising, dozens of people cheered at the groundbreaking for the Annapolis Valley hospice in Kentville Friday.

"I think people just want to celebrate," said Martha Stewart, director of the Valley Hospice Foundation.

The hospice will include 10 beds for people in need of end-of-life care, but are unable to stay at home.

There is no palliative-care unit in the Valley Regional Hospital. Stewart saw the need for one when her mother died of cancer in 2002.

"We basically it did on our own," she said of providing care for her mother. "It was very traumatic for me."

Martha Stewart, director of the Valley Hospice Foundation, says her family's experience with end-of-life care motivated her to spend years helping to raise money for the hospice. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

Two years later, Stewart's grandmother also became terminally ill. By then, there were some supports available to their family.

"When I saw the value of the experience compared to the experience I had with my mother, the contrast was just so overwhelming."

The hospice will be the second in the province. Construction is underway at the first in Halifax.

"There are so many people living with serious illnesses and receiving high-quality care is really a human right," said Dr. Karen Burch, a palliative-care physician in the Valley. "Having a hospice will provide one more option."

The Valley Hospice Foundation is footing the bill for the $4-million construction project, while the Nova Scotia Health Authority will be in charge of operating the facility.

Janet Knox, president of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, was thanked for her work in making the Valley hospice a reality. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

The hospice committee gave credit to Janet Knox, the health authority's president, for her effort in making it happen.

"There is nothing that you can't do when you decide as a community what's important for our people," Knox said.

MLA Leo Glavine was also beaming at the event. He told the crowd he was just as excited as they were to see it finally begin.

"I could almost retire today and feel that one of my three biggest dreams as an MLA and a Valley citizen is going to be a reality," he joked.

Construction crews will begin work in earnest in mid-November. It's expected to take until the end of 2019 to complete the work.

About the Author

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca