New Whitby Hospice to be called Roger Anderson House after long-time Regional Chair

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Published March 23, 2023 at 6:41 am

Photo courtesy Ontario Shores

Former Durham Regional Chair and long-time Ajax councillor Roger Anderson is getting his name enshrined on the walls of Durham Region Hospice-Whitby with the naming of the future home of compassionate care in Whitby.

The 10-bed hospice will be called Roger Anderson House.

The announcement, made at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at Port Whitby Marina, comes with the news the timeline to break ground on the project will be this September, thanks to a $2 million donation from a group of 16 developers who came together to get the hospice built.

“We believe that this contribution is especially significant for our new hospice because a group of donors who actually build communities have chosen to financially support the building of our hospice residence,” said Durham Hospice Board Chair Eva Reti. “This is truly a legacy gift to the residents of Durham Region.”

Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy was also on hand for the announcement. “I am very pleased that the Whitby Hospice will be named in honour of Roger Anderson, who was an unwavering advocate for Durham Region. I was fortunate to work with Roger for many years and see the impact he had on this community,” she said. “Roger was a big supporter of bringing a hospice to Whitby and I think it’s very fitting that it will bear his name.”

Anderson, who was first elected to Ajax Council in 1985, was Durham’s longest serving and first elected Regional Chair, serving from 1997 until his death from stomach cancer in 2018.

His son Warren said the Anderson family was “very grateful” for the recognition of his father’s long career in public life. “My Dad chose to end his battle with cancer at home. It was difficult and I know his final days would have been much better for him and our family if he had been in hospice care,” he said, calling the hospice naming a “wonderful tribute.”

Anderson’s greatest legacy in politics may have been his work in advancing the re-build of the Region’s long-term care homes and in the creation of affordable housing units in Durham, as well as his annual charity which raised more than $6 million to help launch the Abilities Centre, fund programs at Ontario Shores and give a financial boost to post-secondary students in Durham.

Anderson, who had a ten-year career as a police officer with DRPS, served several terms as Chair of the Durham Regional Police Services Board and chaired the Durham Region Transit Commission at its inception in 2006. He also helped amalgamate ambulance services in Durham into what is now the Region of Durham Paramedic Services.

The Whitby hospice, which is one of three to be built in Durham – Bowmanville and Port Perry are the other locations – will serve those in the community facing a palliative diagnosis with care and compassion.

Hospice residences provide comfort at the end of life in a non-institutional setting, with care focused on living – not dying. Residents are empowered to choose how they live, with private rooms, unrestricted visiting hours and access to a wide range of non-medical service and program options including spiritual and emotional supports, arts and music and holistic healing practices.

The annual cost of hospital end-of-life care in Ontario is valued at $4.7 billion, and a typical acute care hospital bed costs approximately $1,100 per day, making it a considerable drain on the health-care system. Hospice residences provide more personal care with the cost of a bed costing about $460 per day, a substantial savings.

An estimated 33 hospice beds are needed in Durham and volunteer groups in Clarington (Durham Hospice) and Whitby (VON Durham Region Community Corporation) formed a partnership and launched Comfort, Care, Compassion, a $15-million capital campaign to support the construction of two new hospice residences in their communities.

(The campaign is running in tandem with the Building for Compassionate Care campaign launched in October 2017 for the Oak Ridges Hospice in Port Perry.)

Donations have been flooding in since then from residents, local businesses, church groups, health care organizations and service clubs, as was about 80 per cent to the finish line when the $2 million donation from the developers’ group was announced.

Ground-breaking is expected in the fall of 2023.

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