Trail Hospice Society financial woes

Greater Trail Hospice Society is hoping to dig out of financial hole

An organization that has provided palliative support locally for over 25 years may fold it if doesn’t come up with ongoing seed money, an ill fate as Hospice Awareness month draws to an end.

Many residents are familiar with the Greater Trail Hospice Society, which supports quality of living for those in the process of dying, but the majority of people don’t know that it’s no longer completely funded by Interior Health Authority (IHA), says Hospice society treasurer Barbara Gibson.

After becoming a society in 2010, the non-profit group has been surviving on fundraising, and a dwindling $80,000 savings account, with the addition of a $19,000 annual grant from IHA. But the bank is emptying and with an approximate $90,000 annual overhead, Gibson said it’s time to come up with a steady source of revenue or residents can say goodbye to hospice.

“Everyone wants a good death. A lot of people aren’t afraid of dying, it’s the before part that they’re afraid of,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure that someone’s last wishes are carried through with regard to their care so that those people who are left behind feel good in that it wasn’t a traumatic experience for them, either.”

With successful memorial gardens undertaken by sister organizations, the Greater Trail group approached the City of Trail with the same idea.

A memory garden, to be located at Gyro Park (in between the boat launch and the rose garden), has been mapped out and awaits committed funds from community groups before volunteers can dig in.

The city has come on board with the removal of 23 trees ($25,000) and the installation of 35 angled parking spots, a $57,000 in-kind donation.

The group’s donor recognition program would acknowledge sponsors within the garden that would eventually feature memorial plaques, providing that financial stability the group needs.

However, the approximate $300,000 project is at a standstill while group members await interest from potential sponsors to gauge whether the project is in fact feasible. If there isn’t enough interest, the society will search for a new project to generate revenue.

“A lot of people don’t get buried in the cemetery, it’s different now,” said Gibson. “You take the ashes and you keep them at home, or you take them to Saskatchewan or you dump them into the Columbia River. But those people want some sort of plaque or memorial.”

Hospice has been through many changes over the years, including when IHA cut a social worker position from the program in 2010. Now operating as a society, the group has risen from one 12-hour position to employing two people at 32 hours a week combined.

Program director Camille Roberts works in the hospital, connecting with nurses, social workers and patients who are battling a terminal illness while volunteer coordinator Peter Stoochnoff schedules bedside respite for these individuals at KBRH, long-term care facilities or in their homes.

“I think the people, especially those who have used the service, really value it,” said Gibson, who became passionate about hospice after going through a similar process with her brother years ago. “If we don’t get an ongoing project started, Hospice (society) and the whole hospice service is done.”

To learn more about hospice, to get involved or to donate, check out www.trailhospice.org

Hospice can be reached directly at 364-6204 or via email at info@trailhospice.org