Campaign launched to replace hospice

  • The hospice at Agape House on Point Finger Road, Paget

A major fundraising drive to replace the island’s ageing hospice is to be launched.

Friends of Hospice said it wanted to create a new building for Agape House, the island’s only hospice, and its charity fundraising arm.

Cathy Belvedere, executive director for Friends of Hospice, which provides financial support for Agape House and bereavement services, said the present facility, near King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, was not up to modern standards.

Ms Belvedere added: “Our facility has eight beds and, unfortunately, they are in shared rooms. We have one isolation room for those with infections that require isolation. Our facility is ageing and it is truly not designed to be used as a clinical space.

She said: “We would like to be able to fundraise and build a new purpose-built facility which will provide our patients and their families with the best medical care and privacy that they deserve at this difficult time.

“We would like to give our staff a facility that is modern and safe to work in.”

The charity announced the campaign, a joint effort with the Bermuda Hospitals Board, at a meeting of Hamilton Rotary Club yesterday.

Ms Belvedere said a survey carried out by the campaign committee had found overwhelming support for a bid to build a new hospice.

Ninety-seven per cent of those canvassed said they would back a fundraising campaign.

George Cook, a Rotary Club member, said his late son had been treated at Agape House and pledged $2,000 to the campaign on the spot.

He added that although his son got good care at the hospice, it needed a new home.

Mr Cook said: “In terms of public funding Agape House is at the end of the line.

“There is need for a specialised, purpose-built facility to do the things that they want to do.

“We can help with the work that the Friends of Hospice are doing.”

He added: “I would hope that members of this organisation would reach out and become a friend of the hospice.”

Sharon Alikhani, BHB’s director of palliative care, highlighted the services available at Agape House and quashed some of the myths about the hospice.

Dr Alikhani said one of the main misconceptions was that doctors had given up and patients going to Agape House would not receive active treatment.

She added: “This is certainly not true. We are able to provide the same treatment at Agape as acute care wards such as antibiotics, IV fluids, pain control via a whole host of delivery methods, chemotherapy, artificial nutrition, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.”

She added that people still stigmatised the institution because the hospice was built in the expectation of an AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

Dr Alikhani said, however, the hospice cares for people with a range of illnesses, from organ failure to cancer.

She added that many also believe people go to Agape House to die.

She said that about 20 per cent of the hospice’s patients are able to leave and return home.

Dr Alikhani added: “Agape House is a place that we can choose to have our care with dignity and compassion dictated by our own dreams and wishes.”