Danielle Zucchet was living the dream: a loving husband, two children, a successful career. Then came the darkest of news: her son Keaton would die of cancer before he turned eight.
“McMaster is one of the world’s elite children’s hospitals. But unlike other children’s hospitals in Canada, end of life and respite care is very limited,” she says. “Families like mine have to choose between the impossible: a death at home or in hospital.”
Danielle is now the chief executive officer of Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice and is working hard to change those options with a new pediatric hospice, slated to open in Hamilton in late 2025. The facility will serve a catchment of 2.3 million people, with 500 at any one time being children with serious illnesses that will cut their lives short.
“It’s about choice for families and meeting them where they are,” says public affairs and pediatric hospice project director, Doug Mattina. “We’re offering medical excellence and also dignity, comfort and even joy in that last chapter, so a mom or dad or sibling or grandparent can be just that, not a 24-hour caregiver.”
The 10-bed, 35,000 square-foot hospice will provide respite care, pain and symptom management, help with the transition between hospital and home, end-of-life care, and psycho-social support for grief — all at one-fifth of the cost of hospital care — in a multi-disciplinary, home-like, enriching environment. All services will be free to families.
Through its impact investing portfolio, HCF provided a three-year loan to support their capacity to fundraise for the hospice’s
$25-million capital campaign, and to cover pre-construction costs.
“The Foundation has been providing loans to the charitable sector for over a decade and we understand how challenging it can be to pursue new and capital-intense opportunities,” says Annette Aquin, HCF’s executive vice-president of finance and operations. “We know it’s hardest to raise funds at the beginning of a project — which is also the most important time — so were thrilled to be able to support the hospice in this way.”