Balancing peace, quiet with noisy construction at hospice in Sudbury

The Maison McCulloch hospice on Bethel Lake in Sudbury is normally a quiet and peaceful spot, but if you've been there lately you'll have noticed construction activity on the property.

Maison McCulloch Hospice still operating while undergoing expansion plans to add 10 new beds

The construction site is the first thing visitors to the Maison McCulloch Hospice in Sudbury see when they drive on to the property. Staff are working to still keep the facility peaceful for residents in end-of-life care. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

The Maison McCulloch hospice on Bethel Lake in Sudbury is normally a quiet and peaceful spot, but if you've been there lately you'll have noticed construction activity on the property.

The hospice is working to add a 16,000 square foot expansion, essentially doubling in size. Ten new beds will be added to the facility that provides end-of life care.

The project is currently in the blasting and clearing phase.

Hospice staff and the construction crew have tried to balance the two extremes.

Before construction even started hospice administration discussed ways of minimizing the disruptions to those staying there, executive director of the Sudbury hospice foundation, Yolanda Thibeault said.

Yolanda Thibeault is the executive director of the Maison McCulloch Hospice Foundation. She says the 16,000 square foot expansion is slated for completion in September 2019. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

"The key area is ensuring that our residents are top priority, residents and the families," she said. Adding that families must be able to access the hospice, as well as park on the property.

"As well as the noise level of course, because blasting, as we know is not quiet. So just ensuring that it's done as less as intrusive as possible," Thibeault said.

The residential wing, where the palliative residents stay, is furthest away from the construction work, while the offices for the administration staff overlook the dusty, noisy expansion work.

Thibeault also said that hospice staff are parking in one of the lots at nearby Laurentian University, and walking a short distance to the building, to allow extra parking on site for families visiting loved ones.

Lyle Foreshew, the director of care at the Maison McCulloch hospice in Sudbury, says the residential wing is furthest away from the construction site, which means they're less likely to hear the noise. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

"Probably the biggest stipulation was to let [the construction company] know that we're not shutting down business," director of care, Lyle Foreshew said.

"People coming in understand that we're under construction. They've been very tolerant."

"As far as a lot of noise, the residential wing is further away from all that noise and you really don't hear the blasts. It's more of a rumble," he said.

Foreshew added that the rumbling from the blasts haven't impacted the day-to-day operations or care of the clients.

Warning sirens sounded before blasting

When crews are about to blast, Foreshew explains that a construction worker will let out three warning sirens near the front entrance to the hospice, and then the blast is set off.

"You could feel the building rumble," he said, adding that the sirens are not audible in the wing where the residents live.

Foreshew says so far no one has complained about the noise or activity going on.

However he admits that once the internal renovations begin inside the building, hospice residents will be more impacted since that work will affect food preparation space, and limit the use of the lounge area.

The outdoor lakeside area at the hospice on Bethel lake is still accessible to residents and their families, however the noisy, dusty construction site is nearby (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

The hospice property includes a picturesque waterfront space which overlooks Bethel Lake. There are several different spots for residents and their families to sit and enjoy the scenery.

According to both Thibeault and Foreshew, that outdoor area is still accessible to those at the hospice, although the construction site can still be seen and heard nearby.

"Construction really hasn't interfered with the ability to enjoy the scenery," Foreshew said.

This is the first time an existing hospice in Ontario has attempted an expansion.

Completion of the construction is slated for September 2019.


Angela Gemmill


Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who has covered news in Sudbury, Ont., for 15 years. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to