Saskatoon's 1st HIV care home will help deal with 'epidemic'

Saskatoon's first HIV care home is close to opening, and people in the community are lending a hand today to get the doors open sooner than later.

HIV hospice and therapy home expected to open in October

(Left to right) Jean Morrison, Katelyn Roberts and Morris Markentin all work on Saskatoon's first HIV care home. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)

Saskatoon's first HIV care home is close to opening, and people in the community are lending a hand today to get the doors open sooner, rather than later.

The HIV hospice and therapy home 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. The Health Region is providing $850,000.

Morris Markentin, co-founder of Sanctum, said people came together on Saturday to both help get some of the work done for free and to raise awareness.

Volunteers spent Saturday helping to do work on Saskatoon's HIV care home. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)

"This home is going to be a great asset to Saskatoon and the province, and it's a long time coming," Markentin said. "We're just so happy that people are supporting us and that we have all the support behind us in the community."

Markentin said the project stemmed from the 2009 HIV "epidemic that we've seen in Saskatchewan." He said there is a need across the country for specific HIV housing.

"Hopefully this house will be a positive light in the HIV epidemic, and that we'll see less stigma with HIV because now it is a chronic disease," he said. "People should no longer be dying of AIDS in Saskatoon, and our hope is to help transition people dying of AIDS to those living with HIV."

The transitional care home will have two beds for people dying of AIDS and eight beds to transition people out of hospital.

Jean Morrison, president and CEO of St. Paul's Hospital, said there would be no other centre like this in Saskatchewan.

"There are centres in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg — so lots of major cities across the country," Morrison said. 

"We're turning into a big city, and we have lots of the same issues as they do. And we have to develop that broad core of services."


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