(Image / Island Health Facebook)

Construction has begun on a new community hospice centre in Duncan for people looking for end-of-life care in the Cowichan region.

The upcoming multi-million dollar facility, Cowichan Hospice House, will be operated by Island Health and feature a range of medical staff and volunteers to provide compassionate care for people with advancing illnesses.

“When my husband Blair became ill, I was surprised to learn that there were no hospice beds in Duncan,” said Mairi Pigeon, client and donor of Cowichan Hospice in a statement.

“My daughters and I feel very fortunate that he was able to stay at home throughout his illness. Knowing that if we hadn’t been able to care for him at home, that his last days would have been in a busy hospital setting really drove home the importance of supporting the Cowichan Hospice House project.”

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“Remaining at home isn’t always an option, but everyone deserves to live out their days in comfort and privacy. Soon, families will have access to expert care for the patient and support for family members in a warm, compassionate environment. Cowichan Hospice House will be an incredibly valuable addition to our community.”

In total, Cowichan Hospice House will have seven hospice bed units ⁠— five that are brand new ⁠— and two that will be transferred from the Lodge on Fourth long-term care facility in Ladysmith.

The centre is designed to have a home-like environment, with each patient receiving a private room that features garden views or a walk-out patio, a pull-out bed for family members, and a private bathroom.

The hospice house will also have common area spaces, like a kitchen, a children’s play area, and a ‘sacred space’ for quiet meditation.

While construction has already begun on the Cowichan Hospice House, further fundraising is required to bring the project to completion.

With a campaign goal of $10 million set, the facility currently has $9.8 million in funding, with $4.6 million coming from community donations, and $5.2 million being provided by the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District.

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The region’s five Rotary clubs are fundraising for the remainder of the project’s costs, with most of the donations going towards the facility’s gardens, which will be created once construction of the building is complete.

“This project would not be possible without the amazing team of volunteers, both past and present, who have always worked hard at advocating for our community,” said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan in a statement

“I am happy to say that this facility will take a patient and family first approach to care that will ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”

Cowichan Hospice House is scheduled to open in Fall of 2020.