LETTER: Longtime donor at Ty Watson House Hospice questions staff firing

My last time at Ty Watson as a family member of the dying was terribly traumatic…


To the Editor,

Re: Hospice staff quit, April 28, Alberni Valley News.

My Dad, in a stubborn rebuttal to his “few weeks” life expectancy, was a 13-month resident of Ty Watson House hospice. During that time, I managed on three occasions to visit from my home overseas. These times with my Dad made me love Ty Watson as a respite, a spot where Dad and I could play games, hang out, chat, laugh, and maybe secretly sneak a shared lager.

My last time at Ty Watson as a family member of the dying was terribly traumatic. My own family had finally arranged to move back to Canada but while we were on the long flight home my Dad had a stroke. Within an hour of landing, and still in a fog of shock, I was sitting on the couch in the Ty Watson living room where those beautiful, compassionate nurses and a huge slew of volunteers had been waiting just to help me. While fighting to control their own tears, they carefully and compassionately explained that I needed to be prepared for Dad’s condition, which wasn’t at all good. My Dad died an hour later.

Those exceptional people serve their dying residents first—for sure—but don’t for one moment think they aren’t serving the hurting, hollowed-out and bereft that are desperately trying to cope too.

Since Dad’s death, my family has made substantial donations to the house in absolute and unbridled gratitude.

But now, after the hospice society’s recent display of—what? Misguided cost cutting? Short-sightedness? Ageism?—I feel like I need to be convinced why my contributions towards this charitable organization should continue.

The board of directors devastated that incredible place by firing a long-term, well-loved staff member, which had the serious ripple effect of a phalanx of staff and volunteers leaving in protest.

As a substantial supporter of Ty Watson, please explain why my family’s support should continue, considering the board’s actions that have affected the residents, staff and volunteers who gave their all?

Full disclosure: I am related, through marriage, to the employee who was terminated but in no way has that influenced my decision to donate to Ty Watson, my questions surrounding the actions of the board nor my decision to write this letter. This is all about my Dad, the memory of him, and my deep care and respect for the house personnel and the way they served the dying in their care. 

K. McKernan,

Fairmont Hot Springs, B.C.

HealthcarePort Alberni

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