MHC hospice suites for end-of-life care now in place at each hospital

The new hospice suits located at the Little Current and Mindemoya Manitoulin Health Centre sites are designed to be a home-away-from home for patients and their loved ones.

MANITOULIN—The Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) is now home to hospice suites for facilities dealing with end of life care at both the Little Current and Mindemoya sites.

“Hospice care has been made a provincial priory as well as by the North East Local Health Integration Network (NE LHIN),” explained Paula Fields, director of partnerships and innovation for the project. “The NE LHIN allocated funding to hospitals throughout the North, including co-location facilities. When they looked at options for small rural care it made sense to put them in hospitals as all the support would be build in.”

MHC took a two-pronged approach with Ms. Fields taking the lead on standards and patient care and Lynn Foster, MHC vice president and CFO, leading the construction side of the project.

The pair worked closely with the Manitoulin Hospice Palliative Care Resource Team, a group comprised of representatives from primary care teams, First Nation Health Centres, Noojmowin Teg Health Centre, long-term care and the LHIN. Ms. Fields coordinated with the partners to develop the standards and eligibility criteria for the new suites.

“We wanted to ensure the suites had a ‘made on Manitoulin’ stamp,” said Ms. Foster of working with the partners. “We reached out and partnered with Island contractors for everything from construction, flooring and plumbing.”

Ms. Foster said that there were challenges along the way but that “the team pulled together to create two beautiful suites.”

“We designed the suites to be a home away from home for the patients and their families,” said Ms. Foster. “We wanted them to feel like they weren’t in an institutional setting—that they could close the door and feel like they were home.”

All elements of the room were carefully taken into account from the warm wall colours, bedding, furniture and amenities.

Each room includes: a kitchenette with a mini fridge, microwave and sink; a table and chairs; a pull out couch with bedding provided; a smart television for both the family members and a secondary TV for the patient; and a private washroom.

“Our IT department set up the rooms for video conferencing so that patients can connect with their loved ones who aren’t able to be there,” explained Ms. Foster.

Another important element when designing the rooms was that they allowed for traditional Indigenous practices.

“We installed special ventilation to allow for smudging,” shared Ms. Fields. “You just need to push a button and smudging can take place within the room. The windows also open in the room, which is normally not allowed in hospitals due to the delicate ventilation system. This allows the spirit to be released. As well, the bed can be turned around to face the western doorway. We have also supplied medicines, an eagle feather and basins for cedar baths.”

The suites were both recently finished and the team invited hospital administration and staff to join Indigenous partners in a ceremony and smudging of the new facilities.

“The response to the new suites has been very positive,” said Ms. Foster. “They have enabled family members to be in a comfortable environment as they support their loved one.”

Ms. Foster and Ms. Fields stressed that hospice care is not new to either MHC site, but that the suites will allow individuals and their families a more comfortable setting.

“Paula developed a booklet which can be found in the suites which offers suggestions for accommodations for out of town family members, local restaurants and grocery stores,” explained Ms. Foster. “It also includes instructions for smudging, using the ventilation, the video conferencing, the televisions and Internet. MHC actually provide free Wi-Fi for all patients.”

“We are proud of the work that everyone has put into creating these hospice suites for Manitoulin,” concluded Ms. Foster. “We sincerely hope the suites provide peace and comfort to those going through a difficult time.”