Video – Ed’s House Vision is Fulfilled

In Local

 

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Friday morning found Cobourg’s Columbus Community Centre packed with jubilant volunteers, staff, donors and supporters to hear it officially announced – funding has been received that will allow four additional beds to open at the Ed’s House Northumberland Hospice Care Centre.

This is made possible by the provincial government’s investment of $609,200, in addition to $283,800 in what Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini termed “top-up funding” for the hospice’s existing six beds, for a commitment of almost $1-million – part of Ontario’s $147.4-million investment over three years in palliative-care services.

Community Care Northumberland Chief Executive Officer Trish Baird said that the additional four rooms are roughed in and ready to complete. In a best-case scenario, work can begin early in the new year and be open for the summer.

CCN delivers hospice-palliative care services with a unique approach, at no cost to those receiving the services, which are available to those with a life-limiting illness anywhere in Northumberland County, at any stage from diagnosis to bereavement. In a typical year, they provide these services for more than 400 individuals, with the goal of offering the right care at the right place at the right time.

At Ed’s House, professionals provide knowledgeable, compassionate end-of-life care for residents and loved ones 24/7 – also free of charge. Since its opening in September 2020, Ed’s House has served more than 340 clients.

Representing the Ed’s House Foundation, Elaine Azzopardi said that the news means the completion of the original vision of a 10-bed hospice, calling it “a testament to the collective power of our community and their shared belief in the importance of providing comfort and solace to those in need.”

CCN board chair Dr. Jacqueline Gardner-Nix noted that hospice-palliative care services are not just for the person going through the process, but also their family members and friends.

CCN acquired its hospice program more than a decade ago, when Hospice Northumberland Lakeshore integrated its services with them. Discussions began soon afterwards on a stand-alone hospice, and a committee formed to raise the funds.

“In a very short period of time, they came up with $10-million, enough to establish a building, choose a site and the first two or three months of operational funding,” Dr. Gardner-Nix said.
And despite the pandemic, she added, it all happened pretty well on time.

Piccini quoted Coretta Scott King – “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassion of its members.”

“There is no greater cause that can galvanize the community,” the MPP said.

“If not for all of you, this wouldn’t happen here today.”

Piccini recalled attending the Ed’s House sod turning shortly after his 2018 election – which is where supporter Bryan Read cornered him to say the structure would not only have room for the initial six bed but also for four more to be activated at some future time. In retrospect, he said, he appreciates Read’s foresight.

“Such a wise move by you, the community, to do that,” Piccini said, adding that – in many cases – a hospice stay frees up hospital resources that might otherwise have been required.

“Health care matters in our communities, and I think we can all say the status quo isn’t working. So you have to be innovative. That’s what this commitment has done – alleviate that pressure with end-of-life care.”

Piccini related some of his experiences with friends whose journey ended at Ed’s House, including Michael Parker, a well-known builder in the Cobourg community who owned two construction companies, Partak and Dalren.

Parker’s widow and son, Karen and Trenholm, shared more details.

The couple had 50 years together, Karen Parker said, during which he contributed to the community in many ways, not the least of which was his Rotary Club of Cobourg membership – not only 40 years of perfect attendance, but stints as club president and District Governor.

A bout with cancer left him with a colostomy, and complications developed when the site became herniated. Following surgery, further adverse complications set in until it became clear to the family that his quality of life would be diminished to a devastating extent.

“We made the decision to let Michael die peacefully and with dignity – I wanted him back in Cobourg at Ed’s House,” Karen said.

It seemed the perfect choice, also, because the Rotary Club had made a $300,000 commitment to Ed’s House and Dalren had won the construction contract.

On Jan. 19, she said, “he was placed in one of the beautiful rooms overlooking the field. He had a colourful gown and a matching pillowcase. He was made comfortable, and we were made comfortable.”

The next day was a Friday, the Rotary club’s regular meeting day, and he insisted on attending through Zoom.

“He wasn’t going to miss his last Rotary meeting,” Karen said.

Friends from the club organized an outdoor sing-along for his entertainment. He was bundled up warmly and brought to the back porch, where he thoroughly enjoyed the chance to take in the show and sing along.

The steady stream of visitors continued, she added.

“I’m not sure if he still holds the record for the highest number of visitors or not…” she said (“yes,” said several staff members in the audience).

“There was no request too big or too small,” she continued, mentioning that the kitchenette was always stocked with muffins, coffee and a fridge full of treats. When their young grandson discovered the bags of candy, he declared, “I love this place!”

“When anyone dies at Ed’s House, there’s an honour guard to walk them out, and this is one of the most heart-felt moments. Friends, family and staff walk with the deceased to the waiting vehicle, playing their favourite music,” Karen said.

“Tears were shed. Our time at Ed’s House was over, but our contact is far from over. There are follow-up calls, and offers of grief counselling and support.”

For this, son Trenholm is especially grateful.

“When grief comes along, you don’t know what to do, you don’t know what direction to go. But with support from Ed’s House, it’s progressing. They help you connect with other people in the community that are going through the same thing and can help in so many ways,” he said.

“It comes and goes, and you don’t know what to expect. But they are there to help you get through it.

“Ed’s House offers so much more than just the time you are there with the person who’s passing.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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