Saugeen Hospice takes the reins to provide hospice care to southern Grey-Bruce

·3 min read

WALKERTON – A new group has formed to ensure people in the south part of Grey and Bruce counties have access to hospice care close to home when they need it.

The organizing committee includes many community leaders representing business, industry and the volunteer sector. The group intends to work closely with Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce Inc. to make the long-awaited hospice happen, said one of the organizers and volunteers, Carl Kuhnke, CEO of the Walkerton Clean Water Centre.

“We’re moving forward; we’ll get this done,” he said.

In a press release, he stated that for many years there was a widely accepted need for residential-based palliative care in the Grey Bruce Health Region. After much hard work, the Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce Inc. (RHGB) opened the doors to Chapman House in Owen Sound in 2017.

There was also a strong need for residential palliative care in southern Grey-Bruce, and the community was highly supportive, putting on many events and raising substantial funds – events like Golf Fore Hospice in June, which is already sold out for this year.

RHGB commenced a plan to fund, design, and build a hospice here, and in September of 2019 the Municipality of Brockton donated almost four acres of land in the East Ridge industrial park area.

Then COVID-19 hit. The board of RHGB has decided to cease its efforts for a hospice in Brockton for at least one year and focus on providing needed support for Chapman House.

Kuhnke said funds earmarked for the southern hospice have been placed in a segregated account and will be held until such time as the project moves forward.

“A strong and independent team has already taken up the reins in southern Grey Bruce to focus on planning and building the new community-based hospice in Walkerton,” he said in the press release.

The group has hit the ground running. In addition to the golf tournament (thank you, Joe Rys!), the local Kinsmen and Rotary are on board.

“We have things going,” Kuhnke said.

Stakeholders from Hanover, Durham, Brockton, Chesley, Neustadt, South Bruce and other communities are in the process of incorporation as Saugeen Hospice Inc. and will then seek Charitable Tax Status from the Canada Revenue Agency.

The latter is essential. Kuhnke said there’s almost a half-million dollars in the segregated account, and more funding will be available once charitable tax status is established.

There’s already a name chosen – Saugeen Hospice, after the river that serves as a common link to area communities.

The group is looking forward to continuing to raise the necessary funds to design and build the Saugeen Hospice. Kuhnke noted, “Family is critical, and we all want a hospice closer to home to meet this tremendous need.”

Kuhnke said the group’s vision is for a four-bed hospice that reflects the community. It won’t be the Taj Mahal but it will provide the kind of compassionate end-of-life care that makes such a difference to families.

The independent Saugeen Hospice team looks forward to continuing to collaborate with RHGB in providing additional residential hospice care in Grey Bruce. We are, after all, in this together, and look forward to completing the vision.

“Watch us go, watch us grow,” said Kuhnke.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times