It goes to show the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and the service losses that came along with it.

The Campbell River Hospice Society (CRHS) is teaming up with a local seniors home to bring hospice beds back to town, which were scrapped entirely at the onset of the pandemic.

But these beds weren’t just for Campbell Riverites, they were made available to people living on North Vancouver Island as well, explains CRHS executive director Louise Daviduck.

“Our community had four hospice beds over at Yuculta Lodge, which is an Island Health owned and operated facility,” Daviduck tells our newsroom.

“And those were available to anyone in the community who was palliative and facing end of life, so that they could spend that last while in comfort.”

But when COVID hit, Daviduck says Island Health closed those beds. And now, as restrictions ease, Yuculta is faced with staffing issues.

“So they continue to be closed, which means over the last 24 months our community has not had hospice beds available. People have only had the option of dying in the hospital or dying in their homes,” she notes. “And that’s not sufficient care.”

No matter what, Daviduck finds there’s always a way to solve an issue. She says there’s a plan to eventually reopen the beds a Yuculta, “but we do know it’s going to take a while.”

That said, Daviduck is pointing to a new partnership between the CRHS and Evergreen Seniors Home. It was sparked by the question, “What can we do to help solve this issue?”

New hospice suites were the answer.

“They’re open now, they’re ready to go,” Daviduck says, “keeping in mind it is a short stay and it is a suite this time versus just a hospice room.”

She says the two suites, located within the seniors home, include a spare bedroom and plenty of amenities, with space for the entire family.

However, they are privately paid for.

“We did ask for government funding so that our community could have hospice care, but we were declined. We’re still hopeful that maybe they’ll change their mind because this is a community issue.”

According to Daviduck, the CRHS provides the psychosocial care for guests, with Evergreen providing the medical care.

“Although we don’t have the government funding for these suites, the CRHS plans on fundraising to create a subsidy plan for people who can’t afford it,” she says.

The annual month-long CRHS Holiday Campaign kicks off tomorrow, Dec. 1. This year, organizers aim to raise $50,000, which will help provide quality end-of-life and grief support to those living locally and in surrounding areas.

Donations will be accepted online here, by phone at (250) 286-1121, or in-person at 440 Evergreen Rd.

“Now that we have this new endeavour, we’re asking for people to support us and help us make sure our hospice suites are available,” Daviduck adds. “It all takes a lot of work and effort and we rely on our community to help us continue providing support.”