TWO years after it opened, the North Shore Hospice needs to improve in just one area, according to its backers: public perception.
The end-of-life care facility on East 14th Street is celebrating its second anniversary on Saturday. Since it opened its doors in 2010, staff and volunteers have helped provide comfort for dozens of dying patients and their families. But despite the substantial number of lives the hospice has touched, many members of the public still don't fully understand what it does, according to Heather Tak, North Shore Hospice Society administrator.
"There's a misunderstanding, generally, that it's your last three weeks when there's no turning back," she said. "That's a fairly old understanding of palliative care."
In fact, the hospice does a lot more than that, said Tak. Many terminal patients begin to make use of the facility long before their final days. The hospice's daycare program, for instance, invites patients in from the community once a week to rest, manage symptoms, connect with others in a similar situation and to give their families some respite. The hospice society also runs education and outreach programs and provides financial support to people struggling with the cost of palliative care.
"We want them to know it goes beyond the walls of the hospice," she said.
Tak is hoping that the upcoming anniversary celebration, which will feature speakers, a tour of the facility and a musical performance, will help to dispel some of the misconceptions.
"It really is just getting people to come into the building and see what it's like," she said. "Come have a cup of tea. . . . It's not a scary place."