Hospice executive director Louise Daviduck (right), and board chair Geri Arkell (centre) and vice-chair Leslie Palmer get ready to introduce the build team members honoured on Friday at the Heart of Hospice Breakfast. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Veteran hospice doctor credits Campbell River community for its thriving program

Dr. Deb Braithwaite spent 30 years working with Victoria Hospice Society

While some local hospices that started back in the 1980s could not maintain their momentum, the Campbell River Hospice Society has continued to thrive, according to Dr. Deb Braithwaite.

Now retired, the doctor has been involved in palliative care, working with the Victoria Hospice for 30 years, and was the keynote speaker at the Campbell River Hospice Society’s inaugural Heart of Hospice Breakfast on Friday morning at Berwick by the Sea.

Braithwaite outlined a number of key components for providing hospice care, such as skilled, compassionate, multidisciplinary care, education, research and advocacy. Most crucial though, she said, is the involvement of the community, which is why the local organization has been able to grow and expand.

“Campbell River Hospice has both endured, and ensured the comfort, dignity and emotional support of hundreds of patients and families over the years,” she said. “It would be hard to overestimate the comfort this organization has brought.”

RELATED STORY: Hospice Build Team celebrates the official opening of Campbell River Hospice

She spoke about the origins of hospice in general, even down to its word origin, and spoke about the efforts of one person in the UK during the 1970s who made a world of difference, Dame Cicely Saunders.

“She’s really the architect of the way palliative care is delivered everywhere,” Braithwaite said.

Saunders started as a nurse, before studying others fields over the years, including pharmacology, psychology and medicine, all of which influenced her ideas about palliative care, especially around moving beyond simply treating pain.

“She went on to write most of the protocols we still use,” Braithwaite said.

Locally, the biggest development in recent years has been the opening of the dedicated hospice building at 440 Evergreen Rd. in 2017.

Prior to Braithwaite, Mayor Andy Adams and build committee member Brian Stamp discussed how the project to erect the site. The mayor touched on the process of finding the land, which appropriately turned out to be next to the new hospital site.

“The result was an absolutely beautiful facility up on Evergreen,” he said. “It creates just a tremendous campus of care.”

RELATED STORY: Virtual Tour of the new Campbell River Hospital

Stamp outlined how the idea came about six years ago, with the build team coming together to oversee different aspects of the project. Next came the identification of the land and finally the campaign to raise more than $800,000 to build the home for hospice.

“That was just people getting on the phone, and phoning friends and business associates,” Stamp said.

With the site built, the hope now is to use $75,000 leftover to establish a fund through the community foundation to provide money for ongoing maintenance. Beyond this, the long-term goal, he added, is to continue to raise funds for the delivery of more programming.

“It’s really important to support hospice in its operations,” he said.

The plan now is to expand the services the organization can provide in the community. Executive director Louise Daviduck credited the generosity of the local community in supporting efforts already, adding how the organization is now starting a campaign to encourage people to make monthly contributions that will help with further programming.

Daviduck, hospice board chair Geri Arkell and vice-chair Leslie Palmer also presented awards of recognition to the build team members who could attend: Stamp, D’Arcy Frankland, Brett Giese and Jill Hanson. Jim Dobinson, George Stuart and Garry Griffin could not attend.

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