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COVID-19: LaSalle Palliative Care Center on hold


LaSalle Palliative Care Center – Plans to build a palliative care center in LaSalle have been put on hold because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The non-profit association Maison de soins palliatifs Sault-Saint-Louis had raised almost half of the 5 million needed for the hospice center on LaSalle’s scenic waterfront and hoped to break ground soon. The group behind the project includes borough business owners, community leaders, and local politicians. Once the center is up and running, it will include eight private rooms and the medical equipment needed to allow terminally-ill patients in LaSalle and adjoining areas to receive end-of-life care in their own neighbourhood. 

Father John Walsh is on the planning committee for the new palliative care center for residents of LaSalle, Lachine, and Verdun. “It is meant for the people from these three communities,” Walsh says, ”although anyone from outside will be accepted.” There are no palliative care centers between the east end and west Pointe Claire for people in the last days of dying so it was necessary to fill the gap. For Walsh, it is all about caring and sharing. Palliative care says, ”Let’s live life to the last moment and let’s live it well. Let’s live it within the community and with support from the community.” 

The fundraising campaign got underway last fall with a gala catered by Buffet Il Gabbiano. It raised an initial $70,000 and more than 300 people attended. Canada’s Justice Minister and Attorney-General David Lametti, the current MP for LaSalle-Émard-Verdun and former Prime Minister Paul Martin who also represented the riding were present as local ambassadors. Corporate sponsors include Desjardins, Quorum, and Melatti Construction. Joe Cacchione of Italian Bad Boyz of Comedy was to do a benefit show for the Sault-Saint-Louis Palliative Care Center at Théâtre Desjardins on March 22nd but the show has been postponed until October. Quebec has canceled all public gatherings until further notice in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19. 

Anna Girolami is on the Board of Directors of the LaSalle Hospital Foundation which will be providing practical support to the palliative care center. ”We will be working hand-in-hand, helping out, supplying beds,” she says. She’s looking forward to local comedian Cacchione’s show once things get back to a ‘new normal’ – whatever, and whenever, that may be. ”We could all use a good laugh,” she says.   Walsh says they had hoped to start construction by June and may yet, depending on whether they get the green light to go ahead from the Quebec Government. Quality palliative care is more urgently needed than ever, and not only for residents in the bilingual southwest sector on the Island of Montreal. Prior to COVID-19, there were reports of people opting into MAiD (medical assistance in dying/assisted-suicide) because they couldn’t readily access palliative care. Now mainstream media is reporting on ”lifeboat” scenarios as to who gets a ventilator when there is a scarcity of resources and a global pandemic.

Walsh says LaSalle Borough Mayor Manon Barbe saw the need for a palliative care center for the Montreal borough and its neighbours and drove the project noting that Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau supports it. ”She is very influential – I give her full credit,” Walsh says. Projections are that the center will be operative by 2022 and organizers are keeping their fingers crossed.

By: Deborah Rankin – info@mtltimes.ca

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