Palliative care pilot to accept first child in September
The idea for the new program first came about in 2012 when Dr. Sean Murray, Health Science North's chief and medical director of the family and child program, started to visit his father-in-law at the hospice.
If children in Sudbury with terminal cancer, or other conditions, require palliative care, they must travel to Toronto or Ottawa to receive that care in a hospice.
With the new funding, some of Maison Vale Hospice's registered nurses have started to train on how to provide palliative care services to children.
“We'll be ready come September if there's a need for a family and a child in northeastern Ontario,” said Léo Therrien, the hospice's executive director.
Therrien said providing palliative care for a child can be more difficult emotionally for staff, and often means more involvement from the family.
“Having adults dying is not easy,” he said. “With children it's an even bigger issue.”
Hospice chair Abbas Homayed said he was proud the donations for the pilot program would extend local palliative care services to children, if needed.
He said the hospice has helped 839 people die free of pain, and with their families nearby, since it started in 2009.
The hospice will remain in close contact with Health Sciences North's family and child program, and will be able to provide palliative care for one child between the ages of 12 and 18, with a terminal cancer diagnosis, if the need arises.
In the future, Therrien said, the program could expand to accept more children.
Four organizations – the National Bank of Canada, the Sudbury Community Foundation, the United Way Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts and Green Shield Canada – have donated funds to launch the pilot project.
Cara Dennis, a group sales representative with Green Shield Canada, a not-for-profit health services provider, convinced the company to donate $30,000 to the project.
“The difference from the hospital environment to here is like night and day,” Dennis said. “They have enough time to spend with you here and you don't have to worry about parking costs or anything like that.
If you have a child that's sick, it's important to have this sort of environment.”
Dennis' father, John Dennis, was a civil engineer who helped design the plans for Maison Vale Hospice, and spent the last 11 days of his life there.
Dennis said she is confident the hospice will be able to provide the same level of care to children, as it was able to give her father.