SOD TURNING: (L) Mayor George Seymour, Founder and Secretary of Fraser Coast Hospice Association Jasine Leslie and Minister Keith Pitt turn the first sod at the sit of the Hervey Bay Hospice. Photo: Stuart Fast
SOD TURNING: (L) Mayor George Seymour, Founder and Secretary of Fraser Coast Hospice Association Jasine Leslie and Minister Keith Pitt turn the first sod at the sit of the Hervey Bay Hospice. Photo: Stuart Fast

First sod turned in historic shift for end-of-life care

TIRED of watching terminally ill and elderly loved ones die behind blue curtains in hospital emergency rooms, a Fraser Coast nurse embarked on a mission to ensure things were different for families in the future.

The result of her hard work peaked with the first sod being turned on the site of the new Fraser Coast Hospice in Urraween.

It marks a major change for end-of-life care on the Fraser Coast and an emotional moment for founder Jasine Leslie.

After moving to Hervey Bay in 2014, Ms Leslie was shocked at the lack of support services for those in need of palliative care.

"After working in oncology for a further four years, I've had so many patients and families finding themselves having to send their loved ones in the back of an ambulance to emergency when it became too difficult to care for them at home," she said.

"Unfortunately some of these patients do not make it to a ward or a room, passing away behind blue curtains.

"In September 2018 this is exactly what happened to a patient I came very close to. After some very frustrated tears of hearing of her death … I sat down with one of our Radiation Oncologists and shared my dream of wanting to build a hospice for Fraser Coast.

"A place where at the end of life, where loved ones in our community can pass away with peace and dignity, away from the intensity of hospital and isolation of home."

Her dream has become a reality as Ms Leslie joined Federal Minister and MP for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour to turn the first sod at the hospice site on Urraween Rd. .

The $7 million project was funded under the Hinkler Regional Deal with Mr Pitt saying palliative care in the region had been a concern of his for some time.

"For the people of the Hervey Bay region, the new hospice means they can get the best care and support close to their family and loved ones," he said.

Mr Pitt said the facility would originally have six beds when it opened in mid-2021, and he was already looking to increase the numbers of beds in the future.

"I'm really pleased to see we're underway … it's a place we're people can pass onto the next life with dignity, and I think that is so important," he said.

Mayor George Seymour labelled the hospice development "the missing link in our health care system."

"Thank you to everyone involved, this is a very special day for our community, a day we'll see the benefit of for generations and generations to come for the people who most need it," Cr Seymour said.