A new not-for-profit society has launched to support hospice patients and their families in Delta.
The recently-formed Heron Hospice Society of Delta will offer compassionate end-of life programs for individuals and families experiencing grief and loss, and aims to support the recently reopened Irene Thomas Hospice, according to a release issued Tuesday morning (April 20).
“Heron Hospice Society of Delta will embrace all end-of-life choices and ensure individuals and families feel supported throughout this precious time with their loved ones,” society president Chris Pettypiece said in a press release.
“We are very pleased to offer hospice support because we believe in taking care of our community and we will work to support end-of-life care needs for our local citizens.”
Pettypiece is one three former Delta Hospice Society board presidents who successfully sued the current DHS board over the alleged blocking of memberships for people who support medical assistance in dying (MAiD) and planned changes to the society’s constitution and bylaws that would have seen the organization transition into a faith-based society.
The board’s refusal to allow MAiD at the Ladner hospice led to Fraser Health terminating the society’s service agreement and lease of the property, including the neighbouring Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care.
The health authority took possession of the property on March 29, and reopened all 10 beds at the hospice on April 15 after completing needed upgrades and repairs to the building.
Pettypiece and fellow petitioners Sharon Farrish and James Levin also formed Take Back Delta Hospice, an advocacy group aimed at opposing the actions of the DHS board and engaging concerned citizens to join the society so as to vote out the board of directors at the next annual general meeting.
“The Take Back Delta Hospice advocacy efforts demonstrated the tremendous support in Delta for hospice care. This new society is led by a volunteer board of eleven directors, all residing in Delta, who are committed to restoring supportive and inclusive care in our community,” Pettypiece said.
Farrish and Levin both sit on Heron Hospice Society’s board, with Farrish serving as secretary. Also on the board are vice-president Dr. Paul Witt, treasurer Decima Mitchell, and directors Daniel Boisvert (who also sits as vice-chair of the Delta school board), Kerry Bentley, Antonina (Annette) Garm (who also sits on the Delta police board), Doug Mather, Dr. Janice Peace and Dr. Wayne Peace.
Delta Mayor George Harvie, who has been vocal in his support for Take Back Delta Hospice and condemnation of the actions of the current DHS board, says he supports Heron Hospice Society and looks forward to seeing the good work of the organization as it helps support people and families in their time of grief.
“The return of the Irene Thomas Hospice to the people of Delta under the leadership of Fraser Health has been a long time coming. This would not have been possible without the perseverance of so many Deltans, particularly those involved with the new Heron Hospice Society,” Harvie said in a press release.
”We will continue our support of the Heron Hospice Society and Fraser Health to ensure the Irene Thomas Hospice always provides the compassionate care that the community expects and deserves.”
With skilled professionals and trained volunteers, Heron Hospice Society of Delta aims to offer support to patients and loved ones and provide comfort and care throughout the end-of-life journey, according to the press release, however it’s initial services are limited due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related public health orders.
In the meantime, the society will be offering an online “Grief Circle” to Delta residents struggling with grief and loss. These small group sessions will be led by a registered counsellor and held online over six weeks, with two additional follow-up sessions. In order to allow for individual sharing, there are a limited number of spaces available for the service.
“We recognize that suffering the loss of a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic adds additional stress and pain because some may suffer through a grieving process with little human contact. The ability to connect with others to grieve is so important and we felt it was necessary to address this need in our current environment,” Pettypiece said.
Additional services the society will one day provide include therapeutic touch, vigils, hospice residence support, remembrance ceremonies and educational opportunities.
Membership in the society is limited to Delta residents aged 19 or older.