Compassionate Communities Always Find A Way

It’s a formative time for McNally House. This year has brought the excitement of a new building campaign, at the same time COVID-19 has required intense changes. Given this dynamic time, Dr. Denise Marshall, co-founder, inaugural Board Chair and Medical Director of McNally House, was asked to reflect on the realities at this moment in time. Dr. Marshall reminded us what led to the creation of McNally House. “We had a growing awareness in Niagara West that despite good healthcare and good palliative care services not all citizens were dying well. Too many people were ending up in hospital at end of life. A six-bed hospice was the next logical step to fill the gaps we saw and felt.” Furthermore, “The World Health Organization states clearly; dying well, wellness no matter what your end of life condition, is a basic human right. Opening a new setting of care for those who couldn’t manage at home, and offering a range of palliative care services, was a good next step to attending to this basic human right.”

In regards in the effects of COVID-19 on the hospice, Dr. Marshall said, “It’s been significant. In March, we needed to mobilize quickly for patient safety, staff safety, infectious disease protocols , and emerging best practice. We were nimble and offered provincial leadership to other hospices as guidance from Ministry of Health was not scaled.” Dr. Marshall said the hardest part has been limiting community, the backbone of the hospice, into the building. “It’s been distressing not to have all of our wonderful volunteers, fewer visitors, and fewer family doctors. We’ve felt the loss but also deep gratitude as the community, has understood, rallied, and journeyed with us all year. I am very proud of our amazing staff!”

McNally’s small size, its well established connections with West Lincoln Memorial Hospital and the community allowed amazing things to happen. These include the deluge of gown sewing and donations ranging from masks to iPADS. Dr. Marshall believes the ‘secret sauce’ is McNally’s highly sophisticated integration with the community, stating “This is not just a ‘place for the community’, it is  the community! “

As for the future building plans, Dr. Marshall stated, “I expected nothing less from the Board. The goal was never to build this hospice, then sit back. It was to ensure that we grow this gold standard of care across our communities. Extending the McNally care model will ensure we leave no stone unturned in our shared goal of a ‘good death’ for all. I can’t wait to see how they grow next. It’s our collective moral obligation.”

McNally House Hospice feels privileged to provide compassionate, person-centred care to not only our residents, but their family and friends who journey with them.

But we can’t do it without you.

$800,000 is needed to be fundraised annually to ensure the residence and all other community programs remain available.