HIV hospice to open in Saskatoon in October

Saskatoon is getting its first HIV hospice and therapy home. It's expected to open in October.

Health region commits $850,000 to community based treatment

Saskatoon's first hospice for HIV patients. (Dan Zakreski/CBC News)

Saskatoon is about to get its first HIV hospice and therapy home. It will be located at the former Grey Nuns' Residence on Avenue O. It's expected to open in October.

The Saskatoon Health Region is partnering with Sanctum Care Group, a community based organization involved with the treatment of HIV patients.

"Often when our HIV clients come into hospital they are suffering from things like pericarditis or infections," said Corey Miller, vice-president of integrated health services with the health region.

Miller said hospitals treat the symptoms but not the disease as a whole. He said the hospice will provide better treatment of the whole patient.

"We'll be able to have IV therapy, addictions treatment made available in an appropriate setting, where they're feeling like they're getting supported, not just for that acute episode," he said.

Patients will be able to stay at the hospice for up to three months, said Dr. Morris Markentin, who has been working on the project for three years.

"Often they need six weeks of therapy, but after two weeks they start feeling better and discharge themselves from hospital," he said.

Markentin said he expects patients will stay at the hospice for the full six weeks of therapy because it is a more relaxed, home-like atmosphere. He said this will free up acute care beds in hospitals.

St. Paul's Hospital Foundation has donated the building which will house the ten bed hospice. The health region has committed $850,000 to cover the first year operating costs.