Hospice society providing tent for guest visits, funeral gatherings

Among the myriad disruptions the pandemic has forced upon our society, the limit on crowd sizes is one of the most troubling to families unsure of how or when they can get together for the final farewells to loved ones.

The Prince George Hospice Society has come up with a temporary solution during the warm weather months by setting up a large tent on the hospice house property at 3089 Clapperton St.

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The tent was donated to the society to create a covered outdoor space for people unable to visit hospice guests all together due to virus protocols and it can be booked for funeral gatherings.

“The biggest impact we’ve seen with the COVID has been the inability for families to gather when someone’s in the house dying,” said Prince George Hospice Society executive director Donna Flood.  “Part of what hospice is, is also embracing and caring for the families. People have been sitting in their cars waiting for their turn to go in the house and they’ve brought their lawn chairs to sit in our parking lot, so we thought why not give them a nice dry place to sit and be with each other and still take turns.”

The tent was set up two weeks ago and has already been booked for a celebration of life next week. It’s being used for hospice staff meetings and is available, by donation, to anyone in the community. Call the society at 250-563-2551 to make a booking.

“They don’t have to have been at hospice house to use our tent, it’s open for the community,” said Flood. “It’s just allowing people that moment to pause and move forward and get some closure. We’re finding our need for grief support has increased because people just aren’t able to go through that next step because they haven’t been able to have that pause.”

The tent is big enough to provide seating for 100 people but crowd sizes are kept to 40 to remain within provincial health guidelines. The society has partnered with Blake Productions to provide audio/video livestreamed webcasts of services in the tent to connect out-of-town family members or friends. It also has Zoom capabilities to allow virtual participation.

The society just received a grant to allow for construction of a ramp which will allow guests in wheelchairs or beds to be wheeled into the tent to be with visitors.

“We’re so grateful for the generosity of people helping us do this,” said Flood. “Of all the things COVID has impacted us with, this has been a big one and we’ve been able to adjust to make it better.”

The hospice house has 10 beds and just two visitors are allowed per room at any one time. That number can be increased if someone is imminently dying, to allow amore family members to be there at the time.

Before the pandemic, visitors were allowed to mingle in common areas of the house such as the kitchen, and they could eat with guests, but those areas are now closed to reduce threat of infection.

The Hospice Dream Home Lottery is now half sold-out, with 5,748 of the 10,999 tickets sold at $100 each as of Tuesday. The 3,390-square-foot home, worth $704,000, comes with appliances and is located in the Nechako View subdivision at 3955 Larisa Crt. The campaign started in late June and the grand prize draw will happen on Christmas Eve.

The first of two hospice 50/50 draws had a prize pot of $80,725 as of Tuesday and is expected to sell out before the Sept. 25 draw date to give the lucky winner a $150,000 payday. Each ticket costs $25. Tickets for the second 50/50 draw will go on sale Sept. 26.

“We’re way ahead of schedule,” said Flood. “We’re thankful for everyone, online has done better than it has ever done.”

Tickets for the home and 50/50 draws can be bought at www.hospicedreamhome.ca.

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