The County of Simcoe has followed through on its commitment to local hospice services, including Mariposa House Hospice in Severn Township.
Simcoe County Warden George Cornell paid a visit to Matthews House Hospice in Alliston on Thursday to celebrate that facility's first anniversary and present a $500,000 cheque.
The money is the second installment of a three-year commitment to the Simcoe County Hospice Alliance and is part of an overall commitment of $1.5 million for 2017-2019 by Simcoe County council in support of residential hospice services.
“We understand the need and the growing demand,” Cornell said, especially the need “to ensure that services remain accessible” to all county residents.
The new funding is earmarked for two new residential hospice programs in the county – Hospice Huronia Tomkins House in Penetanguishene, and Mariposa House Hospice in Severn.
Mariposa House Hospice received a cheque for $200,000. It will get another $100,000 next year.
"It's great because it's earmaked for capital — building and construction costs," said Si Lowry, co-chair of Mariposa House Hospice.
The final tender is awaiting approval from the province. Once that happens, construction can begin. Lowry said the initial goal was to have the facility open by the end of 2019, but it is now expected to be up and running in early 2020.
In the meantime, the community support has been impressive, he said.
"The momentum that you feel in Orillia and the area for this project is just wonderful," he said.
The Simcoe County Hospice Alliance was established to help plan the expansion of hospice services and access to palliative care for families across the county. There are currently five members of the group: Hospice Huronia, Mariposa House, Hospice Georgian Triangle in Collingwood, Matthews House Hospice in Alliston, and Hospice Simcoe in Barrie.
Representatives of all five hospices and of the local municipalities were at Matthews House for the presentation, and thanked the county for its support.
“I just wanted to say thank you,” said Kim Woodland, CEO of Matthews House. “We were so excited a couple of years ago when Simcoe County… supported our alliance and 25 new (palliative care) beds.”
Woodland expressed the hope that the commitment would be extended beyond its current timeframe.
“We are looking forward to this continued relationship,” she said. “We are supporting our families in our communities to live life to the very fullest until they die.”
“Capital funding is critical to ensure our hospices can provide” palliative care and services for families, said Margo Cooney, president of the Matthews House Board.
While individual generous donations are the backbone of the capital campaigns, Cooney said, without the support of “angel donors like the County of Simcoe,” it would not be possible to provide the compassionate and encompassing palliative care offered to patients facing end of life.