YARMOUTH, NS – When a person reaches the end of their life, of course you want them to die with dignity – not on a hospital stretcher in an emergency department because there is no bed available. hospice available for her elsewhere.
And yet it was happening.
When he worked at Yarmouth Regional Hospital, Dr Al Legere knew this was the case.
âSome people died in the emergency room because there was no bed,â he says.
Over 15 years ago, Yarmouth resident Shirley Hubbard approached Dr Legere, asking if he would be part of a local effort to create hospice and palliative care beds at the hospital in Yarmouth.
If you know Hubbard, you know: nobody says no to Shirley.
“She won’t let you say no,” said Legere.
Besides, he didn’t want to say no.
He also felt passionately as Hubbard and others felt that palliative care beds should exist in the hospital setting.
And that’s how he, Hubbard, and other members of a local hospice society got to work. Years of work.
As a result of these efforts, seven palliative care beds now exist on Four North at Yarmouth Hospital. One of the beds is a cozy bed so that couples, or parents and children, etc., can be close to each other – kiss each other – in the last days and moments of a person’s life.
But it was not an easy process to get these beds.
Years of work
âWe followed and had no luck with the administration. They sort of promised something and a few weeks later nothing happened, ârecalls Legere. âAnd so on, year after year, until the last three years probably, when we cooperated. “
At that time, the company had enlisted the help of Yarmouth MP Zach Churchill, who also served as Minister of Health in his last portfolio with the previous Liberal government.
“I’m surprised you haven’t changed your phone number with all the calls you’ve received,” Legere jokes with Churchill, as they sit together in Legere’s living room.
The hospice society was doing things, but not the whole picture.
The company raised funds and purchased pain pumps and recliners to make things more comfortable for patients. He supported the VON in its efforts on this front.
Ever since palliative care beds became a reality, Legere and his wife Sandra have heard about this end-of-life care. The hospital’s seven hospice rooms have been renovated and furnished to feel comfortable and non-institutional, and hospice nurses have been trained.
âWe have heard such wonderful things from people who have seen loved ones die,â says Sandra. âThey were treated in such a great way. It makes us happy.
Due to health concerns, Dr. Legere’s time with the company is now drawing to a close.
Just to let you know, not only do you not say no to Shirley, but you also don’t go unnoticed.
She firmly believed that Dr. Legere’s commitment to the cause should not go unnoticed. The city and MP Churchill agreed.
Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood recently presented Dr Legere with a certificate of appreciation from the town for his work, and Churchill publicly acknowledged Legere’s contribution to the legislature.
Yet Legere and others don’t think Hubbard’s contributions should be overlooked.
“She persisted, like me, in not giving up,” says Legere. “She’s been the driving force from day one.”
Hubbard started the Palliative Care Company in 2004. âI worked in the hospital and saw people on outpatient and emergency departments. Sometimes they couldn’t find a bed upstairs and I thought everyone has the right to die with dignity, âshe says.
âWe are very lucky now because they have trained nurses who only deal with palliative care. I recently experienced this myself when my niece passed away, âsaid Hubbard. âSitting in this room and seeing the compassion of the nurses and the care they provided was so heartwarming. “
âIt was a lot of hard work and struggle to get this,â she adds. âI am really proud of the Yarmouth Hospice Society and I am happy that Dr Legere had the same dream as me. It meant everything.
Mayor Mood says communities need champions like Hubbard and Legere.
âIt makes a difference in people’s lives. Not just the deceased, but their families who can breathe a little easier because of the way their family members have been treated, âshe says. âI just believe in building community in general. We need champions to make the world a better place.
A provincial impact
Asked about the reluctance over the years that had blocked progress on hospice beds, Churchill said there was a lot of pressure on the hospital system and the inpatient bed system.
âIt took work to get the health authority and all who agree to see the real value of this and to recognize the deficit in communities where palliative care was not available,â he says. âBut it was worth it. I hope people like Dr. Legere and Shirley see the impact they have had not only on this community, but on communities across the province.
That’s because this effort didn’t end on the fourth floor of Yarmouth Regional Hospital. Churchill says the Yarmouth model led to a provincial strategy to add hospice beds to hospitals in all parts of the province. The cost of operating the beds is covered by the budget of the health authority. The last of these beds is to be added on the south shore.
“What started here in Yarmouth – and, of course, there are advocates in other parts of the province as well – but what started here has led to provincial changes,” says Churchill, who says another model had raised millions of dollars to have stand-alone hospice facilities. However, he says this created obstacles in many communities where it could not be achieved.
âThe Yarmouth model has allowed us to expand palliative care to the extent that we have,â he says. âIt wasn’t just a big effort for the people of Yarmouth and this region. It ended up having an impact across the province.
This is good news for Dr Legere who is very grateful.
âThat people die with dignity is at the heart of it all,â he says, still grateful for Hubbard and his tenacity in improving the lives – and the end of life – of people.
His passion is not lost on anyone.
“As Al says,” said Churchill, “nobody says no to Shirley.”
The statement by Yarmouth MP Zach Churchill was read to the Nova Scotia Legislature:
I rise today to pay tribute to Dr Al Legere of Yarmouth.
When the founder and president of the Yarmouth Hospice Society, Shirley Hubbard, established the society in 2004, she said the first phone call she made was Dr Legere. As the good doctor knew, you don’t say no to Shirley Hubbard. He will dedicate his time and knowledge to this palliative care society for almost 17 years.
He never missed a meeting and was a calming and inspiring presence who assisted the Yarmouth Hospice Society with some of its most crucial initiatives, including acquiring pain pumps, furnishing a family room to Yarmouth Regional Hospital, VON assistance and working with our previous government. and the health authority to acquire palliative care beds in 4 North at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital.
The work of Dr. Legere and the Yarmouth Hospitality Society has become the model our government has adopted to create spaces of hospice care across the province.
I ask the House to join me in thanking Dr Al Legere for sharing his wisdom, time and energy with the Yarmouth Hospice Society over the past 17 years. His dedication has helped transform, improve and comfort the lives of many in our community and across the province.