By Lindsey Cooke 
BELLEVILLE – Hospice Quinte  is one step closer to having a residential building for terminally ill patients in the Belleville-Quinte West region.
The South East Local Health Integration Network  gave its endorsement Monday to a funding application by Hospice Quinte to build the six-bed facility, LHIN spokeswoman Caitlin den Boer told QNet News. The application now goes to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for approval.
“The LHIN is supporting the residential hospice in two ways. We found out today it’s going to be supporting us by giving us money to help build the actual building, where the care will take place. Prior to that the LHIN had committed to providing on going funding for salaries and other costs that are associated with running the residential hospice, ” said Hospice Quinte Executive Director Jennifer May Anderson.
A hospice is a service dedicated to improving the quality of life of people suffering from terminal illnesses. These services can be provided in patients’ homes, long-term facilities, retirement homes, hospitals and hospice residential buildings. It’s this kind of standalone building that Hospice Quinte wants to build in Bayside, between Belleville and Trenton Ward of Quinte West.
According to the LHIN, there are no residential hospice beds in Belleville or Quinte West; the nearest facility is a 45-minute drive away in a different community.
“There are three residential hospice beds in Madoc, there are three beds in Prince Edward County and Picton …. So anyone from our area would have to attempt to get into any of those facilities. So now we’re going to have six beds that will serve the areas that hospice Quinte serves,” said May Anderson.
Hospice Quinte has been trying to make such a facility a reality since 2012.
“We have an aging population so these kinds of services are going to be more in demand,” said May Anderson and Paul Huras, CEO of the South East LHIN would have to agree.
“It’s timely this is a need that is identified, the ministry had made some funding available and we are looking at insuring that there’s hospice services throughout the south-east and we were looking at areas that not only had the need but also had done work to give us confidence that this could move forward quickly,” he said.
The LHIN agreed to support the actual building of Hospice Quinte through a one-time funding of 1.2 million dollars. Previous to this the LHIN had committed to fund $630,000 yearly to support clinical operations for the six beds.
The board endorsed the funding project under the conditions that Hospice Quinte will be responsible for funding any extra costs above what the ministry and the LHIN have committed to providing.
According to an annual report from the South East LHIN in 2016, it is estimated that 60 per cent of LHIN deaths occur in the hospital.
“Given that there are no officially designated (though used) palliative beds in the LHIN, some consideration should be given towards evaluating the capacity needs and supporting the development and utilization of palliative services in the community,” the report said.
Huras said that they took this into consideration with the plans of this new hospice facility.
“We look at mortality data and we also look at what proportion of deaths occur in hospitals and obviously some people will die in hospitals but you don’t want that to be the go-to place for people to die and across the province, people are requesting hospice services as … a more comfortable and caring environment for the patient and family members to accommodate the natural death,” he said.
The new hospice building is proposed to be 6,500 square feet with six beds costing an estimated $2.3 million. The building is scheduled to be up and running by next year.