Jasmine opens doors to community

| 02/04/2019
CNS Local Life
(L-R) Dr Virginia Hobday and Felicia McLean are ready to welcome the community to Jasmine

(CNS Local Life): A day after a royal ribbon cutting for Jasmine Villa, and the conferring of a Certificate and Badge of Honour on Felicia McLean, its director of operations and nursing, the new home for Cayman’s hospice held an opening party Friday, 29 March, to enable more of the community to share in the celebration. The timing also proved fortuitous as Chris Duggan, Jasmine’s board chairman, announced that their health practitioner’s licence had been approved, enabling the facility to be fully operational.

The new building finally brings the administrative and inpatient units together under one roof, with four rooms initially available to whoever needs related medical care. Dr Virginia Hobday, addressing the approximately 175 people gathered, explained the rooms are “designed to be comfortable and homelike, but with the added security of medical and nursing expertise which will be available 24 hours a day. The admission of a person might be for a few weeks to give families a respite from caring, it might be for a few days to maximise symptom control or it might be for the end-of-life care if their home is not suitable for that,” she said.

But Hobday also stressed that the nurses will continue to pay home visits for their patients. “It will not replace home care. We will always look after people in their homes because ultimately that is where people want to be,” she explained, adding that the inpatient unit “will give us an additional benefit and a wonderful environment in which to do that”.

Duggan recounted how the project for a new hospice was born, starting with the efforts of Derek Haines, who ran six marathons in a year, raising $1.3 million. The initial push eventually led to more than $3 million being raised for the building fund.

“That has enabled us to build… without any loans and it has been financed exclusively by contributions from the Cayman Islands community,” Duggan said, adding that Dart donated the almost one acre of land for Jasmine, along with preparing the site, and architect John Doak designed the facility for free.

While acknowledging all the major donors who contributed to the cause, many of whom were recognised on plaques by the rooms they sponsored, Duggan stressed the fundraising was a community effort.

“No matter how small or how large each individual donation was, every donation was a huge donation for us and really meant a lot to us. No matter the size, every single one helped us complete this project,” Duggan said.

Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour also gave some welcome remarks, noting that all the contributions to getting the facility built “reflect Jasmine’s role as a stalwart advocate in our community for the rights of the chronically ill and dying”. He added, “The care and attention that your staff members provide Jasmine patients are especially deserving of our praise.”

Seymour also spoke of the Health Care Decisions Bill, which is expected to be presented to the Legislative Assembly this week, noting that Jasmine was among the stakeholders involved in working on the document. “I am confident that by continuing to work together we can ensure the successful passage and implementation of this bill, which will help to dramatically improve the quality of life of those among our population facing chronic or terminal illness, and assist you in the important work you do here,” he said.

While there was no ribbon cutting after the speeches, since the Duchess of Cornwall had done so the previous day, Haines, together with Governor Martyn Roper and his wife, Elisabeth, symbolically opened the front doors letting in the community to tour the new facility.

Immediately greeting visitors is an overhead art installation just inside in the entrance. “The Glide”, created by artist Tansy Maki, was designed especially for Jasmine and sponsored by Walkers. Maki, who is probably best known for the large fine-art murals on display throughout Cayman that she has created over the past 19 years, said ‘The Glide’ “is one of the most important pieces I’ve created from a spiritual standpoint, knowing it will bring a sense of tranquility and peace to the viewers”.

The facility itself is bright and welcoming, with comfortable areas for meeting and the various therapies that will be offered. The inpatient rooms are large enough for visitors, even including a sleeper sofa for family members to stay over.

The environment is well-suited to the type of care offered. “Our nurses and carers provide an incredibly compassionate level of service to not just the patients, but to their family, and just not the family, but to their friends,” Hobday said. “They become involved with the home and become part of the family and it is an honour to go into those families and be accepted so readily. It is a precious time of life, and that is not something that we take lightly.”

Duggan echoed that sentiment when he told guests, “This really is not just a building. This is a home. This is Jasmine Villa, the new home of palliative and hospice care in the Cayman Islands, and while it might be the last home for many in our community, where many will spend their final days, it will forever be the symbol of love, hope and happiness for their families and for our community.”  

See photos of Jasmine opening party below (click to enlarge)

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Category: Medical and Health

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