BRUCE COUNTY – Carl Kuhnke, chair and Ken Brown, vice-chair of Saugeen Hospice Inc. presented an update on the plan to build a hospice in the south part of Grey-Bruce.
Saugeen Hospice has been in existence for five months, Kuhnke said. He outlined the various kinds of palliative care provided in Grey-Bruce – hospital, long-term care, home care and residential hospice. Hospital and long-term care are expensive – three to five times that of hospice care – but they’re 100 per cent funded as part of health care. Hospice is not.
Hospice care depends heavily on the community for funding. The government provides funding in the amount of $200,000 per bed, and the actual cost is $1 million. The government also provides $105,000 per bed for annual operating expenses; the cost is $175,000 per bed per year.
Saugeen Hospice was incorporated in June 2021 following the decision by the Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce (RHGB) to stop accepting donations for a south build, Kuhnke said. He and Kelly Fotheringham had served on the RHGB board, but decided to form a new organization to ensure people in the south part of Grey-Bruce have access to hospice care, close to home.
The Saugeen Hospice board of directors includes entrepreneurs, a logistics expert, a lawyer, a chartered accountant, teacher, palliative nurse, environmental professional, pharmacist, firefighter, municipal councillor and a diplomat.
Kuhnke noted the nearest residential hospice is in Owen Sound, over an hour away. He told how people in their 80s have had to live in a hotel while their spouse is in palliative care. This region has an aging population, and winter travel presents mobility and travel challenges.
Plans for a south build have been in play for five years, as a committee for RHGB, Kuhnke said. RHGB is now focused on its operations at Chapman house due to COVID-19 related fundraising issues.
Saugeen Hospice needs to raise $1 million for the Ministry of Health to authorize a six-bed hospice. After that, $400,000 per year must be raised. That’s far from an insurmountable challenge, since Saugeen Hospice has a number of initiatives underway. The main fundraiser is Golf Fore Hospice, which raised $150,000 this past June. In addition, Hike for Hospice has raised $100,000 annually in the past. Galas average $50,000. Harvest for Hospice is in the planning stage. And one must never underestimate the support from service clubs. Saugeen Hospice is ready to undertake a major donors campaign, keeping in mind that Chapman House was “kickstarted” with a $1 million donation from Chapman’s Ice Cream.
Kuhnke told council that RHGB holds over $707,000 in a segregated south build account. RHGB has charitable tax status; Saugeen Hospice anticipates getting approval for charitable tax status in early 2022. Kuhnke said he expects to see a marked boost in donations when this happens – there’s over $500,000 waiting on tax status. In the meantime, he said Saugeen Hospice has over $15,000 in the bank.
If the $707,000 is included, Saugeen Hospice will have $1.5 million by March.
Kuhnke asked council for full support of this initiative. That includes a grant of $10,000 in the county’s 2022 budget. Since Saugeen Hospice is a not-for-profit corporation, all funds are transparent and accountable.
County Coun. Chris Peabody, Brockton, thanked Kuhnke and Brown.
“You’ve done a fantastic job,” he said. “Personally, I support what you’re doing.”
He made note of the three acres of land Brockton is providing for the south build.
“There’s a bit of a log jam,” he said, adding that Health Minister Christine Elliott has been asked for help with that.
Warden Janice Jackson, South Bruce Peninsula, said, “I’m a huge supporter,” and asked that information about upcoming fundraisers be sent to her. “I would be happy to help in any way I can.”
Staff was asked to do a report on the grant request.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times