These are the design plans for the new dedicated palliative care unit to be constructed at St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish.

ANTIGONISH: A new hospital unit focused on palliative care is on its way.

Late last month, the Nova Scotia Health Authority approved the construction of a new palliative care inpatient unit at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish. Construction on the new facility, with working being done by Tate Construction, is set to begin this month.

St Martha’s Regional Hospital site lead Martha Cooper said the hospital doesn’t have a dedicated, centralized palliative care unit. By focusing all of the palliative care in one unit, with staff who have additional education with physicians who deal with palliative care, Cooper said they are able to enhance their services.

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“In addition to that, we’re able to create a unit that has space for families, that has space for volunteers, that has all of the amenities that are appropriate for families who are experiencing an palliative care journey with a loved one.”

A release from the Nova Scotia Health Authority states the St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation committed up to $600,000 to fund capital costs for the six-bed unit, while St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Auxiliary is kicking in up to $150,000 for furnishings and equipment. Cooper also pointed to the work of the Antigonish Town and County Palliative Care Society, who Cooper said had the original dream of a dedicated palliative care unit.

Cooper said the unit will include a kitchen space for family members and volunteers, shower and laundry facilities, and access to WiFi, television, and computers.

“That way they have a comfortable place to go so they don’t have to leave the unit,” Cooper said. “We’re just trying to make that whole care provision more patient centered and family centered.”

The new palliative care unit is set to open later this year.

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Antigonish native Matt Draper has been a photographer, reporter and columnist for The Reporter since 2003.