They still have a long way to go, but a spokesman for a group hoping to build a residential hospice in the Digby area says a donation of land earlier this year was a significant step forward, as they continue to seek support and try to build momentum for the initiative.
This past spring, the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre donated 6.63 acres of land in Cornwallis Park to the Atalanta Hospice Society, the group pursuing the hospice project.
Around the same time, the society learned of a couple of monetary donations it was getting, including $1,605 from the Historical Association of Annapolis Royal and an anonymous donation of $50,000.
The society’s intention is to build a five-bed hospice, to be known as Fundy Hospice. It would be a modular design that would enable future expansion to perhaps eight or 10 beds, said David Cvet, president and co-founder of the Atalanta Hospice Society.
He acknowledges the project is still “at a fairly early stage” and that major fundraising will be needed to help the society realize its vision of a facility providing end-of-life care.
He hopes the land and monetary donations will help make other people – including officials in the province’s health-care system – see that the society is committed to this project.
“I’m sure there’s been many little societies starting up to try to do something, then they kind of evaporate and disappear,” Cvet said, “but now with the land grant and we’ve got some cash, we’re a little bit more of a serious player.”
The land donated to the society was the site of a hospital that was shut down in the 1940s – Cvet says he thinks it was 1947 – and eventually was demolished.
The society hopes to acquire another piece of about 1.2 or 1.3 acres at the same location. This piece is municipally owned.
There is a good deal of community interest in the hospice project, Cvet said.
“Everybody thinks it’s a really good idea and it’s something that we need out here,” he said.
This summer, while travelling in Ontario, Cvet had a chance to visit a hospice in Muskoka. Ross McLean, who is involved in the Muskoka hospice, came to Digby County last September to talk about their project.
“He basically gave a little talk about how the project started and how it evolved in Muskoka,” Cvet said. “Their project was pretty well funded entirely by local community support and donations ... Ross was very good in presenting the path that they had taken to start building the hospice.”
McLean is involved in the Order of Saint Lazarus, as are Cvet and others involved in the Digby-area project. The order’s activities include advocacy, training and support for palliative and hospice care.
The Order of Saint Lazarus is acting as the charitable arm of the Atalanta Hospice Society.
“They (the order) collect the money,” Cvet said. “They’re the ones that issue the tax receipts.”