The North Thompson Valley simply does not have the population to support a stand-alone hospice house facility.
Although carefully worded, that was the main conclusion of a consultant’s report released during North Thompson Hospice House Society’s annual general meeting in Little Fort Hall on June 23.
A dedicated enhanced acute/residential room seems to be the option preferred.
That must be a disappointment to the members of the society, who have worked hard for several years to bring about a stand-alone hospice facility.
Little Fort would have been the preferred location for many, as it would serve both the Clearwater and Barriere communities.
However, with the numbers indicating that only one hospice care bed would be needed, it is hard to imagine how such a facility could be staffed and operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
That being said, however, there does seem to be a consensus that the present situation or status quo (what might be called option three) needs improvement.
The Valley’s population is aging and there is increasing desire for alternatives that provide the chance of dying with dignity in a non-institutional setting.
There is a fourth option that might be worth investigating.
That would be to construct a stand-alone hospice facility on the grounds of Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital.
Anyone who has walked the new trail behind the hospital cannot help but be struck by the beautiful vistas up and down the valley that can be seen from the trail.
None of those views, however, can be seen from within the hospital.
Possibly a small building could be constructed with large windows in a place that would take advantage of those views, but still near enough the hospital that it could be serviced by hospital staff and volunteers.
Patients entering the last few days of life could be moved there where they could spend their final hours in a place of quiet beauty, surrounded by members of their families.
Keith McNeill is editor of the Clearwater Times