Stettler County advocates on behalf of local hospice

Newly formed society aims to help the dying

Stettler County council will advocate on behalf of the newly formed Stettler Hospice Society (SHS) that aims to give area residents an optional place to pass peacefully.

The county will send a letter of support for SHS to Alberta’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman.

“We are not asking for money,” Dr. Alistair Drummond told council during their regular meeting June 13. “We’re asking for political push and political help.”

SHS’s long-term goal is to have a stand-alone building for hospice care but the cost of about $4 million to construct, and another $1 million annually to operate, is currently prohibitive. In the meantime, SHS wants to create two dedicated suites in Points West, one for a patient and one for equipment. This would be funded by the hospice society.

SHS’s initial goal is to raise about $250,000 this year.

“Most of that will go towards capital costs, beds, lifts, anything else required in terms of equipment for this room,” said Dr. Drummond.

“We want a quiet and dignified and peaceful place people and their families can think of as a refuge area where they can die in peace.”

Dr. Drummond said they want hospice care rather than palliative care because palliative care is only in the hospital.

“Hospice is end of life care,” he said, adding that when someone enters hospice they are usually expected to pass within 28 days.

“Hospice care is for anyone and not just for someone with terminal cancer. It’s for anyone at any age. We tend to forget people in their teens, 20’s and 30’s who die and wish to have hospice care.”

An alternative to hospice care is dying at home but that’s not always easy.

“Some say they want to die at home but when it comes to the nitty gritty of dying at home a lot realize they are not capable of doing this so the only alternative is going into a hospital. The hospital is not the most serene of places. Palliative care in a hospital room is rather dismal and dull.”

Dr. Drummond said last year there were 90 designated palliative patients in the Stettler hospital, which works out to two per week.

“There are definitely the numbers there for this service.”

It costs about $40,000 for someone to spend the last month of their life in the hospital.

“That’s an underestimate,” said Dr. Drummond. “It’s probably fives times that.”

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