Ann Gold pioneer in palliative care
Founding of Hill House Hospice fulfilled vision
Sep 29, 2002
By: Linda Johnson
Ann Gold was an activist and nurse who wanted to provide terminally ill patients and their families with a home in which to spend the last weeks of life.
With the founding in 1998 of Hill House Hospice, she fulfilled that vision.
Ms Gold died Wednesday after a lengthy battle with lung disease. She was 71.
“She had the insight to see the need in the community long before others. She was a real pioneer,” hospice executive-director Anne-Marie Dean said.
The hospice, located on Wright Street in Richmond Hill, is a not-for-profit, non-denominational organization serving all York Region. Since it opened in June 1998, the hospice has taken in more than 200 patients.
Staffed by nurses and volunteers, who provide 24-hour care, the home allows family members to live in the house and be with the patient in the last stages of illness.
“For more than 200 families, she made it possible for them to live right up until they died,” said Ms Dean, a registered nurse
“Her contribution to the community was immeasurable. She was a mover and shaker. She’ll be truly missed.”
In the 1980s, Ms Gold started Regional Nursing Services, a successful private nursing company. Soon after, she began working for a palliative care centre.
While the first attempt went nowhere, in 1991 she tried again. By 1997, she and other volunteers had a workable plan. Within a year the hospice was taking in its first patients.
“She was focused, she was a visionary and she was courageous,” said Stephen Cappe, a lawyer and chairperson of the hospice board of directors. “Because there were lots of reasons for her to fail and she never did. It’s a real loss.
“The hospice is a very special place. As a founder and as someone whose vision was fulfilled, it speaks to the type of implicit leadership that is necessary in order to keep doing the good work this place was created to do.”
Jane Reid, a friend and volunteer who helped establish Hospice King, said Ms Gold’s drive to set up a free-standing hospice grew out of her nursing experience.
“It was partly her Scottish background, because she’d seen models in the U.K.,” she said. “But it really came from nursing. She felt there were always some people who needed to have a special place, who are alone and have no caregivers or where it’s simply impossible to stay at home. And a home-like setting was far preferable to a hospital.”
Ms Gold’s ability to get the hospice built had a lot to do with her credibility as an activist and volunteer in the community, Ms Reid said. The project really got going when the town donated the house on Wright Street. After that, the project received a lot of volunteer help.
“Ann was able to make that happen. People thought so highly of her,” Ms Reid said. “She was always there, providing food for the volunteers. She’d make lunch or dinner for everyone.”
The hospice is a three-bedroom bungalow and rooms have extra beds for relatives. Outside, the back yard has walkways, running water and a newly built garden, all provided by volunteers, community groups and town staff.
Ms Gold received many awards for her community and volunteer efforts, including the town’s volunteer recognition award in 1999. She campaigned for more accessible transportation for the disabled and was on the hospice board of directors until about 1-1/2 years ago.
Mayor Bill Bell, who gave the eulogy at the funeral yesterday, said Ms Gold was a good friend to both him and his family since shortly after he came here in 1975.
“She was a wonderful lady with a huge heart,” he said. “Of course, she could also be very stubborn and opinionated. I’m really going to miss her.”
Not many people leave behind such meaningful legacies, he said, as Ms Gold has left in the Hill House Hospice.
“I can’t think of anything the town ever did that was more meaningful and made us feel better than participating in that. It had been her dream for so long.”
Ms Gold leaves her daughters Catriona and Elaine. She also leaves many family members in Scotland.
Donations in Ms Gold’s name may be made to Hill House Hospice, 36 Wright St., Richmond Hill, L4C 4A1.
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