AROUND TOWN by LAURENE MACDONALD
Recently, I had a very interesting conversation with Phyllis Hermillon, president of the Palliative Care Society here in Pictou County.
The group is about 25 years old and Phyllis became involved at that time as she realized people with terminal diseases and their families need a great deal of support.
The board (synonymous with the society) is made up of 20 members and meets on the second Thursday of each month at 12:30 p.m. Its chief mandate is to provide care and support to clients with life-threatening illnesses. One purpose is to maintain the comfort of clients not only when they are in the hospital, but also when they are in their own homes.
Thus, much of the money raised by the society is used to provide equipment such as hospital beds, CADD pumps, commodes, shower chairs, walkers etc. for those who are spending their final days at home.
Phyllis noted that the demand for the program continues to grow as the number of referrals increases each year.
Our palliative care unit at the Aberdeen Hospital is second to none in the province. It has six private patient rooms and two family areas, one with kitchen facilities. It is bright and tastefully decorated with stained glass artwork and some beautiful paintings.
There are a number of volunteers who, after completing a course, visit with the patients on a rotating schedule. They do not do medical work, but are there to talk, listen or read to patients.
Sometimes these volunteers provide musical entertainment or freshly baked goods. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can contact Martin Fisher, co-ordinator of volunteers at the hospital.
The society does do some fundraising in the form of golf or fishing tournaments. Also they are registered at Stewart's Bottle Exchange so that if anyone wishes to donate their recycled items to the Palliative Care Society, they may do so. Phyllis said they are always happy if someone or a group of individuals offers to spearhead a fundraiser on their behalf.
Another fundraiser is the Memory Tree that the group has set up at Christmas time at the Highland Squre Mall. For $5 a person can have the name of their deceased loved one printed on an ornament.
However, most of their funding does come from donations that can be collected in three ways:
A) giving to the society directly ie. using cards at the funeral home
B) giving to the Palliative Care Unit directly
C) donating through an endowment plan
B and C are controlled by the Aberdeen Hospital whereas A is the responsibility of the society.
Each year in March or April, the society organizes the Time of Remembrance Service. This is an occasion designed to provide comfort to those families whose loved one died during the past year. This year, the music was provided by Lloyd MacLean, his choir and Shaun McLean. Words of encouragement and comfort are read.
It is a very special time. I feel we are very fortunate in Pictou County to have such a willing and competent group of volunteers who oversee the workings of our palliative care service. Hats off to all of them!
Submitted by Laurene Mac Donald, a community correspondent with The News.