Hospice hopes high as usual

Painstaking, multi-step process ongoing toward creation of Castlegar hospice house

The local hospice society has found much encouragement and practical information by looking at existing hospices

It was just over a year ago the Castlegar Hospice Society received word that the civic government was prepared to provide it with some no-charge real estate. Vacant properties in question are located at 836 and 862 Eight Avenue. The local non-profit group received the news with a lot of gratitude.

“Getting the land is huge,” said hospice society executive director Suzanne Lehbauer back in the summer of 2013. “We’ve always had the support of mayor Chernoff and council and this just huge. I’m so excited and this is overwhelming to me.”

Checking in with the director as the summer of 2014 drew to a close, the Castlegar News asked for an update. Orchestrating this sort of project is very complex and, as of September 22, Lehbauer said about a dozen funding applications were being considered by various potential supporters. Needless to say the people involved in getting a stand-alone hospice house for Castlegar are keeping busy.

“It’s the… ‘hurry up and wait,’” Lehbauer laughed. “But the end result will definitely worth it. There’s a lot of excitement in the area, that we’re finally going to have something for the region. Because it is an essential service.”

A three-year time frame had been established around the time of the land donation, leaving about two years on the clock. Part of the task of getting things happening has been to assemble a qualified team and Lehbauer has recruited an important member.

“We do have a consultant in place,” she said. “The Honourable Roger Simmons, who is working on getting capital funding for us. He was in politics for close to 30 years and was Canadian Consul-General in Seattle, so he certainly has all of the connections we need to get the larger amounts of funding.”

Beneficial projects are well worth the necessary procedures that come with them, even if there are a lot of them.

“Of course it’s a long process,” Lehbauer continued. “There are numerous steps with each organization we apply to. I wish things were going faster but, as with any large project you have to take it step by step.”

What is certain is that time has been spent productively by hospice society members and their colleagues. An idea for a design is being nurtured although Lehbauer says it can’t yet be made public. The director divulged that the society has gone to school on successful existing hospice houses, for inspiration and for practical tips to keep on the back burner until building time arrives.

“We do have a strategic plan in place for funding,” Lehbauer concluded. “We have found by researching all of the other free-standing hospices in B.C., for example Kamloops, Kelowna and Penticton, they were practically up and running before they were able to get their operating funding in place. So that’s something we have to take into consideration.”

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