Hospice Miramichi

One of Hospice Miramichi’s biggest objectives is finally about to become a reality.

Board chairman Paul McGraw, during an emotional announcement at the Rodd Miramichi River Hotel on Wednesday, revealed that a new $3.5 million home for the hospice would soon be under construction on the Gordon Road in the former town of Chatham.

“About seven years ago, the conversation was had between two people … about a dream that someone had,” McGraw tearfully said.

“It was [Connie Doucet] and Darcy Gulliver. It was about a dream someone had about introducing hospice services here and establishing a residential hospice.”

Out of that conversation, the first board of directors for Hospice Miramichi was formed. At the first strategic planning meeting held a few months later, it was determined largely because of executive director Connie Doucet that hospice services be delivered, presented and introduced in Miramichi in three phases. A business plan was built on that.

The outreach program was the first of those services and was introduced in June 2013. The second was the day hospice program, the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada, which began in July of 2016.

“To put it in perspective, other hospice organizations in the province of New Brunswick in some of the larger centres took seven and nine years to achieve what our organization achieved in less than three,” he said.

“As of today, we have helped and assisted well over 100 families who are going through end of life issues.”

Now, the hospice is about to get a new home thanks to a generous donation from Dr. Gerard Losier and his family.

Losier, the prominent local physician and hospitalist, whose family has given back to the community time and again, explained to the crowd that when he heard about the project, he reached out to various financial institutions to find out how he could help make this happen.

After going to an independent branch, Scotia Wealth Management, and after a number of negotiations, they came on board with Losier providing the collateral should the project collapse.

“At the same time, [they gave] the OK that they would lend any of the money they needed while we worked through the process,’ said Losier.

From there, Losier said they went back to Francis Malley of Des-Tek Inc., a city-based architectural firm, to finalize the plans and drawings for the $3.5 million facility. Then came trying to secure the land.

“I knew that I had a substantial portion of land that I could donate to the hospice and so I did that,” he said.

“We are building this nice new project on Gordon Road on a 10.3 acre piece of property.”

Construction is set to begin in the spring once the snow is gone with the hopes of opening the new building in the first quarter of 2019.

The new Hospice Miramichi will be an eight-bed capacity facility, with six beds for the residential hospice and two beds for respite care. 

There will be areas dedicated to families with three rooms where families can stay overnight, giving them their own living space. There will also be areas for families to have consultations with physicians and McGraw said the plan is to have a ‘smart’ technology building, so if families have a loved one in a room but with family in another country, they can communicate digitally.

Existing programs at the hospice as well as administration will all relocate to the new facility from its current location in the former Bishop’s Palace on Howard Street. “At our hospital, we have four palliative care beds and on many, many days, we have numerous people waiting to get in to the palliative care unit,” said Losier.

“What happens is many people are not able to get in there because of the sheer size of it – four beds – so to recognize if we were able to have an [eight-bed] hospice… that would allow some of the patients in the hospital that needed palliative care to exit the hospital and go to a hospice.” 

With the announcement of the construction of the new facility, came the announcement of a new capital campaign to support the community project.

Peggy McLean, board member and chairwoman of the capital campaign, said there are many ways for the community to donate to the project to help with costs.

“Our capital campaign committee is being assembled and we’re currently working on various sponsorship levels that will be offered to businesses, individuals and community organizations,” she said. “This campaign will provide those who wish to participate the opportunity to sponsor rooms, wings, equipment, etc in honour of their loved ones or provide businesses and organizations with the prospect to showcase their name in an appropriate manner in a location in the room they sponsored.”

Individuals and their contributions as well as those who have supported previous Hospice Miramichi campaigns will have the opportunity to have their names displayed in an appropriate manner within the new facility.

McLean also announced that Judy Losier was named the honorary chairwoman of the capital campaign.

“The mortality rate is still 100 percent. Seventy percent of Canadians died in acute care hospitals, 15 per cent in hospices and the last 15 percent received varying degrees of palliative care and died either at home or in palliative wards,” said Judy. “All of us are getting older and there’s going to be a lot of people who are going to go through this process of life. We need to do as much as we possibly can to understand what the process is and to take care of each other as well as we can. If we can do it in this community, with this beautiful hospice, it’s a bonus.”

McGraw said further announcements in regards to the project will be made in the coming months.

Updates on the campaign will be announced as the project moves forward and will be listed on the Hospice Miramichi’s social media pages.

CREDIT: Jocelyn Turner

The Losier’s, after some thought, decided that the original property they had chosen to build the Hospice on would be much nicer in a different location. So after clearing their new property, construction began on Water Street, overlooking the Mighty Miramichi River. It will be a beautiful setting for the patients who will be calling this their new home by September, 2020. It has been at times difficult to move forward during winter months and while in a pandemic, however progress is being made. This 8 bed Hospice will serve Miramichi, Blackville, Neguac, First Nations, and other outlying areas. The name for the Hospice will be announced at a later date.