Stakeholders break ground on nation’s first hospice facility

Cayman HospiceCare celebrated a long-awaited milestone Thursday evening with the groundbreaking of the islands’ first dedicated home for end-of-life care.

The four-bed respite facility and administrative offices, planned for completion next year, are the result of extensive community support and one of the most successful private fundraising efforts in Cayman Islands history.

Over drinks at a pub in 2014, local marathon runner Derek Haines accepted a challenge to raise more than $1 million to build the facility. Through six marathons across Europe, North America and the Caribbean, he far surpassed campaign expectations and raised $1.4 million.

The extensive donation pool will allow Cayman HospiceCare to offer its services for free at the facility. Housed adjacent to Coconut Joe’s on land donated by Dart Enterprises, the home will also operate rent free.

“Everybody in Cayman is going to be touched by death at some stage. A lot of people have had people go through hospice, and hospice is a very popular organization,” Mr. Haines, who worked with Rotary Club of Grand Cayman for the fundraising, said during the groundbreaking on West Bay Road.

“When the opportunity came for people to get together, it just gathered momentum. It was like a snowball gathering down the hill and it became an avalanche. It was pretty emotional actually.”

HospiceCare staff hope the unit will facilitate dignified palliative care in a home setting for terminally ill patients, explained operations director Felicia McLean.

“The facility offers inpatient care for people who just don’t have the facilities to be able to pass peacefully at home,” she said. “So the facility offers a place where families can come and the care is going to be covered completely free of charge. They can just be the loved one. They don’t have to be the caregiver if they can’t manage in the home.”

Project construction will be directed by BCQS, which is expected to put out bids for builders. HospiceCare board chairman Chris Duggan said the facility will replicate a home environment to promote patient comfort.

“It’s to prevent patients from having to go to the hospital. It’s to keep patients comfortable and pain free in their final days,” he said. “This isn’t a hospital. … This is a home. Their families are welcome and they will spend their final days in a home environment with their friends and family surrounding them at all hours of the day. There aren’t any restrictions on visiting hours.”

Mr. Duggan’s mother, Jeannette Duggan, a longtime nurse, assisted in the burial of a memorial box filled with the names of former hospice patients. The box contained names of patients she personally cared for.

The names will remain in the building’s foundation as a reminder of Cayman’s past.

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