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REPORTING · 18th October 2012
Walter McFarlane
The Kitimat Hospice Palliative Care Association held their 20th anniversary in Kitimat on Saturday, October 13th. Supporters of the program came out to learn more about Palliative Care and enjoy the refreshments.

Frank DaSilveira welcomed everyone. “It is a pleasure, and an honour, in order to celebrate 20 years of Service, to the District of Kitimat,” said DaSilveira. “The main purpose of our service is that every person [has] the right to die with dignity, free of pain and not alone.”

A former president, Albert VanDerHaven, was asked to tell the history of the organization. He has been with Hospice since 1993. He told how Hospice began in the crusades in the 11th century.

“It was recognized by the medical profession and by care givers, in the early 1990s, that people who were terminally ill, or palliative as it is now commonly called, did not get the care they needed. A number of dedicated people formed the organizing committee presenting to the general public their concerns and made proposals of what could be done to address these concerns,” said VanDerHaven.

The original members of the Kitimat Hospice Association were: head nurse at Kitimat General Hospital: Penny McIntosh, Doctor Simon Ross, the Reverend John Van Omme, Barb Webster, Susie Smeader, Jackie Reid, Kathey Nelson, Conny Hewgill, Mary Pat Patterson, Gesine Welsh, John Hurst and Kim Walty. He thanked all these people for the work they have done because there was no support from the government or medical profession.

“The society was originally incorporated on 30th of July, 1992 with Penny McIntosh as President,” said VanDerHaven.

He explained at the time, pain medications were given as prescribed by the medical professionals. As there were no breakthrough medications, patients often died in severe pain. This has since changed dramatically.

Now, Hospice have more financial support which is used to reach out to the community and raise awareness of hospice Palliative Care. They use volunteers to help out where needed and volunteers who are trained to visit with people in the hospital.

“The future for Kitimat Hospice is to do whatever it can to help people more and more and more people need palliative care. However, what we don’t have in Kitimat in Terrace is freestanding Hospice,” said VanDerHaven.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan stepped forward to say a few words about Hospice. “It’s a community effort and if we don’t have people that volunteer and do things like this, like Rosella and her group, we don’t have a really good community. This community, I think, is working together and we’re very, very happy,” said Monaghan.

She thanked them for making the community whole and helping people who needed help.

Pastor Don Reed from Kitimat First Alliance Church stepped up speak as well. He explained how he lost both his parents in a 5 month period. He stated if it had not been for the hospice, his mother would not have passed with dignity, at home and cared for.

“It always comes down to an individual making a difference. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then to love your neighbour as yourself,” said Reed.

He expressed that when we as communities learn to see our neighbours as we see ourselves, then Palliative care will become something we embrace as a whole. He said it was near and dear to his heart and he sees the difference the volunteers make.

DaSilveira stated the number of volunteers was limited and asked the people present to consider becoming a volunteer. It only costs $5 a year.

“It’s a wonderful experience to be able to do [something] for someone who passes away,” said DaSilveria.
Albert VanDerHaven told the story of the Kitimat Hospice Society
Albert VanDerHaven told the story of the Kitimat Hospice Society