Years of trying to imagine what a new Langley hospice might look like is coming to a close as the exterior walls and roof are up.
Langley Hospice Society president Kathy Derksen, society executive director Carissa Halley, and society communication and funds manager Shannon Todd Booth shared what that was like, during a recent walk-through of the site at 22008 52nd Ave., just down the hill from where Langley Memorial Hospital (LMH) overlooks the community.
“It’s just – wow,” Derksen recalled of her first look at the standing structure.
“I got chills, ” commented Todd Booth.
Halley called it a “dream come true.”
When it opens, the new purpose-built hospice will provide more amenities and services than is possible at the current 10-bed facility housed in Cedar Hill and Maple Hill long term care facilities at LMH.
While the current facility provides care for about 238 patients a year, the new 15-bed hospice is expected to accommodate about 350 people annually.
The finished hospice facility will include a fireside lounge, plus a patient comfort care area where families can retrieve a warm bucket, ice water or other patient comforts for their loved ones.
For the first time, there will be a dining room with a full service commercial kitchen that will make customized meals from scratch.
Each of the 15 patient suites will include a private washroom, along with a sleeper sofa for families as well as access to outdoor patios, where a patient can be rolled out in their bed if need be.
“We purposely designed it so each room would have a view” Derksen explained.
There are skylights to bring natural light into the high-ceiling hallways, and the hospice will also have the first bariatric lift assistance device in the Fraser Health Authority to help staff move heavier patients.
Construction of it all is carrying on despite the impact of the pandemic, which has created disruptions to supply lines that have boosted the material expense significantly.
“It’s definitely escalated costs” Todd Booth commented.
Lumber bills alone were $175,000 higher than budgeted, Derksen revealed, and the society is bracing for high-than-estimated drywall costs for the same reason.
Those were not the only surprises.
Initial excavation of the site discovered some long-forgotten buried pipes and tanks.
All things considered, Derksen said, work is going well.
“Everything is pretty much on schedule,” she remarked. “We’ve been pretty fortunate.”
When the hospice started, it was a single bed, then that was expanded into the current 10-bed facility, which was considered an “interim” measure until a purpose-built facility could be built.
That was 17 years ago.
“It was a very long interim,” Halley observed.
Another COVID challenge for the society has been the fact that, during a pandemic, many of the fundraising events for the society have not been possible.
Because of the need to observe safety precautions, most of the fundraisers the society usually holds were just not possible.
Fortunately, donors have been stepping up.
A campaign to raise $2 million to buy furniture and other items to make the hospice more home-like has reached the $1.2 million mark, according to the hospice society website.
In late April, Ashdown Capital and Otter Co-op contributed $30,000 in sponsorship of the family shower room and laundry space.
More contributions would be very welcome, Derksen pointed out. It would help do things like landscape the sheltered courtyard that is meant to provide a peaceful place for hospice residents and their families.
“We still need donations Derksen said.
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