This week, led by Don Davidson and Mieke Ewen, fifteen of us toured the new Margaret's Place Hospice at St Joseph’s Villa. The vision had been to bring quality hospice care to Dundas and area. Quality means many things to different people; in this case, the hospice is a ten bed beautiful facility. Six beds are for palliative patients and four are dedicated to respite care for palliative patients and caregivers. The building nestled at the back of the SJV property bordering on the ravine is an example of remarkable, cutting edge architecture and design by McCallum Sather and construction by Ira Macdonald.

Don and his team worked tirelessly to raise the funds for construction. His passionate persuasion led to many donors, large and small, individuals, organizations and service clubs, and yielded over 13 million dollars. Margaret’s Place is a reality because the vision was backed by steadfast perseverance. And now Dundas hosts an outstanding hospice. MP aims to provide a tranquil, caring environment to support families and patients on their end of life journey. The physical setting contributes much to the overall effect. So too, the interior features of Douglas fir columns, stone fireplaces, panoramic windows, gardens and waterfalls unite to reinforce the beauty of nature and to remind us of the continuum in the natural world. The water fountain below is a tribute from Paul Clifford to his wife Barbara.
The spiritual aspects are also present. The Villa, founded by the Sisters of St Joseph, values all faiths and belief systems. Throughout the building there has been careful attention to details in all the rooms and gathering areas.  Almost every area has a view to the outside. It is a truly calm place of reflection and contemplation.
Mieke Ewen led us through the palliative suites. Each one has its own shower, fireplace, and Watson smart technology control system for television, blinds, lighting, and paging. The beds may be expanded from single size to double. All the sliding doors open to individual patios and the ravine; the beds are completely moveable and can be taken outdoors to this patio. A double swing also sits on each patio. Each of these six suites has been “named” thanks to generous donors. (The four respite suites are still available for naming.)
There are two spas, a large kitchen, a library, a plan for music and horticultural therapy. The rooftop has a garden and other than two exhaust fans no other obstructions. (The HVAC is buried.) Some of the art collection of the Laurentian Bank was entrusted to Bert Dorfmann of McMaster Fine Art Framing and Gallery. This art has in turn been loaned to Margaret’s Place—and this gift prompted several local artists such as Catherine Gibbons to donate from their private collections as well. There is also a large landscape by Ross Robinson. The overall effect is wonderful. The theme of nature is reflected in the pieces of art. Beauty and serenity prevail throughout the entire campus, inside and out.
The Ministry of Health funds the costs of medical expenses in a hospice; everything else, including heat, hydro, food, furniture and programme must come from fund raising. MOH funds the medical staff; everything else must come from the St Joseph’s Villa Foundation and volunteers. To date, 45 volunteers have completed their intake interviews and training. Several of our members have joined this team. The jobs are wide ranging from cooking and baking to patient support, from gardening to housekeeping. If you are interested please go to the SJV/Margaret’s Place website for more information.
Joining Don and Mieke were Theresa, Lori, and Leigh from the Foundation. Leigh is the head of volunteers, Lori of finance, and Theresa of management. The Rotary Club of Dundas Valley Sunrise is pleased that Don who is President and CEO of the Foundation and Mieke who is Chief Operating Officer of SJV (includes Villa, Margaret's Place, and St Joseph’s Estates) are both members of the Rotary club. The hospice will begin admitting referrals September 7. The dream of providing a place of beauty and peace for patients at the end of their lives is a reality.