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Docs behind long-planned rural hospice site glad to see progress

Although its been in the works for over 10 years, proponents believe the project needs over $2 million worth of fundraising to be realized
Dr. Sarah Gower - headshot
Elora’s Dr. Sarah Gower is one of those spearheading the plan to bring a hospice site to Wellington County.

ABOYNE – Those pushing for a rural hospice site in Wellington County are pleased to see the project moving forward after more than a decade of planning. 

At a recent County of Wellington council meeting, warden Kelly Linton announced after a closed session the county would be committing a two-acre parcel of land at the Wellington Place campus for a six-bed hospice site. 

Dr. Sarah Gower and retired doctor Alan Simpson are two members of a core group who have been working towards making this site a reality. 

Gower said in a phone interview when she first came to the area around 12 years ago, she remembered running into Simpson and asking him why there isn’t a hospice site. 

“It turns out, he had also been thinking about that as a project for a while and so it kind of just went from there,” Gower said. 

Simpson explained things started moving back 12 years ago through meetings with the current Groves Hospital CEO and the county’s CAO Scott Wilson where the group let them know they were thinking of starting a rural hospice site. 

Gower said as the project moved along, they have done a formal needs assessment with summer master students which established the need for a site in Wellington County. 

Both noted Guelph-based Hospice Wellington — who are completely unaffiliated with this project — have a great site but it can be a difficult location for some Wellington County residents to get to, particularly those who live in the northern parts. 

Gower said end-of-life care is important and a hospice site can offer a less clinical environment than in a hospital and not everyone is comfortable dying at home. 

“Hospice care is really key for a nice, healthy and safe environment at the end of life that’s dedicated to that, that’s peaceful and can adapt individually to people’s situations and really provide that home-like environment but with adequate support,” Gower said. 

Simpson said he was delighted to hear about the land donation because the price of land in Wellington County is very expensive and there is much more fundraising necessary before this project can proceed. 

“Before the province will grant it for us, we have to have up-front land spoken for, money for a renovation or a new build and also have to have two years operating expenses upfront before they consider us to say ‘we’ll give you $105,000 per bed per year as a grant,’” Simpson said. 

Simpson estimated this would work out to somewhere in the ballpark of $2 million to $2.5 million of fundraising needed. He noted fundraising to build the new Groves Hospital has died down, there should be a better opportunity to raise money. 

Gower said Simpson’s estimate sounded accurate but there are already initial anonymous donations dedicated to this hospice site. There’s a wider group of about people who Gower said are ready to start fundraising as well as local service clubs and faith-based groups. 

She also believed there will be some in-kind donations which will be as useful as actual money. 

“We’ve got our hospital built and this is kind of the next step,” Gower said. “We’re just really, really excited and looking forward to moving forward.”

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Keegan Kozolanka

About the Author: Keegan Kozolanka

Keegan Kozolanka is a general assignment reporter for EloraFergusToday, covering Wellington County. Keegan has been working with Village Media for more than two years and helped launch EloraFergusToday in 2021.
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