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Hospice Muskoka left without funding in provincial budget

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Hospice Muskoka is pleading for help after being left without additional funding for palliative care beds by the Provincial government.

On Sunday, the executive director of hospice Muskoka found herself at the Cottage Life show in Mississauga, looking to fundraise.

"We were very disappointed with the provincial budget that there was no additional funding for hospices, particularly for hospice Muskoka," said Donna Kearney, Executive Director of Hospice Muskoka.

Hospice Muskoka provides healthcare services to people dying or near the end of life. Andy's House opened up two years ago in Port Carling. It has ten beds. The hospitals in Muskoka rent out five beds, and the province funds $315,000 annually for three beds. That leaves the organization with the challenge of fundraising more than $1 million annually.

"Fundraising in Muskoka is not easy, so to raise $1.1 million to keep our doors open every year is becoming exceedingly difficult," Kearney said. "Why should I have to be spending my weekends here asking people to donate money so that I could care for people who are dying."

Someone Stephen Domnanovits stopped by the information booth at the cottage life show.

"I have just been diagnosed recently with stage four pancreatic cancer. We understand now the importance of it because being diagnosed, we just understand they do need the support," said Domnanovits.

Kearney said her organization is hoping people who cottage in Muskoka understand their challenges and do what they can to help in more ways than just donating.

"We're asking people to advocate to the government for funding for hospices across Ontario," she added. "The hospital in Muskoka is the only reason that Hospice Muskoka is still open."

Kearney said it costs significantly less to care for a patient in hospice than the hospital and hopes the government reconsiders its decision.  

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