On February 21, County Staff provided a report to council members regarding the request for a $1M loan to Huron Hospice. The proposed loan would be used to support the second phase of renovations, expanding the 4-bed hospice to make 6-beds possible, and repurpose some of the existing bedrooms. The loan would have also provided matching funds for a $680,000 MOHLTC grant for which the hospice has already been approved. After receiving the staff report, county council voted to not approve the loan, citing that funding would be taken from reserves which have been earmarked for infrastructure projects (roads and bridges). The report also stated that hospice care is a provincial mandate and falls outside the municipal role in providing health care.
“This is disappointing news for Huron Hospice. It means that we may not be able to access the grant, and this significantly delays our renovation plans. The board at Huron Hospice will need to regroup and reconsider our plans for expansion moving forward,” comments Jay McFarlan, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors at Huron Hospice.
Huron Hospice currently runs at- or near-capacity, and there is growing demand for the specialized care the hospice offers. Since opening in May 2018, Huron Hospice has provided care for 42 residents and their families with 24/7 professional nurses on-site. There are no fees for the services. The hospice receives $420,000 per year in funding from the province to provide care but relies on community donations to make the shortfall in funding, an additional $400,000 per year.
Earlier in the month, McFarlan made the request to county council and demonstrated how the hospice fits within the County Economic Development Plan. In that plan, the County identified health care as a key sector for growth and a need for the county to “position itself as a model for high quality rural health care services in Ontario” (Huron County Economic Development Plan 2016-2020). This loan request was an opportunity for the County to address many issues identified in the Economic Development Plan and is not an unusual request considering what other nearby Counties have given to their local hospices.
“It requires significant community support to establish a hospice,” says McFarlan, “and the support we have received to date has been wonderful for the betterment of our community. Huron Hospice is open and providing care for our community right now, but there is a growing need that needs to be addressed. I know our community will continue to be supportive and make us all proud to call Huron County our home.”
For media communications contact Jay McFarlan firstname.lastname@example.org