Casey House launches campaign to raise money for new home
Need for organization that helps people with HIV/AIDS growing.
Downtown Toronto's Casey House is embarking on a massive multi-year project that promises improved support for those living with HIV/AIDS.
Casey House has offered palliative and home care, outreach programs and other services since 1988. A donation from a major benefactor allowed the organization to purchase an old house at 571 Jarvis St. and it is now working to refurbish the home to better meet the needs of Casey House clientele.
Downtown Toronto resident Bruce Lippett knows the value of Casey House first hand. He was diagnosed with HIV 21 years ago and used the organization's services last year due to complications brought on by illness that debilitated him and threatened his life.
He spent three weeks at St. Michael's Hospital and was discharged before he was ready to care for himself. Rather than being left to his own devices, he was able to stay at Casey House while he recovered more fully.
The care he received there far outstripped his expectations. "The first thing I realized is that I had all these people telling me, just sit back, eat, rest and get well and let them do everything else," he said. "I came in there (weighing) 120 pounds and came out at 153 pounds."
Though he no longer stays there, Lippett has a personal nurse who still visits him to ensure his health does not deteriorate to the point where he requires additional emergency care.
He said the improvements to Casey House services the new facility will offer will be a boon to countless people. "It's a home, not a hospital. You go in there and you're treated like family," he said. "The original building is small and space is limited. To be able to expand will make more opportunities for them to work in the community and accommodate more people in the community."
The redevelopment will cost about $35 million, of which Casey House is responsible for $10 million. The organization has raised some $3.3 million toward that goal. The organization has launched a capital campaign that will work toward raising the necessary funds to turn the old house into a new and improved facility. "We're looking to add a purpose-built health-care centre," said Casey House CEO Stephanie Karapita. "We'll be able to have more in-patient care that meets 21st century patient care standards."
Karapita noted the current facility has tiny rooms for in-patients and small, shared bathrooms. The new facility will offer bigger living spaces and separate bathrooms.
The need for a change in the way the organization operates is necessary given the changing demographics of the clients it serves. "One-third of the beds we have are filled by women on any given day," she said. "Back when we first started, that wasn't the case - we worked exclusively with men."
The centre will continue to provide sub-acute care, with nurses and meal services making house calls to ensure those living with HIV/AIDS can continue to live at home.
In ensuring health care needs are met, those individuals will have less need to fill emergency room and acute care beds at hospitals. "People with AIDS are now living with the disease and aging with the disease," Karapita said. "They're often isolated and marginalized and because of that, their health care is constantly deteriorating."
While the number of in-patient beds will remain the same, the new facility will increase Casey House's ability to provide care in the community.
Such an increase in service is essential as incidences of HIV/AIDS continue to rise. Karapita noted that from 2003 to 2008, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS increased by 31 per cent.
For more information on Casey House or to donate to its capital campaign, visit www.caseyhouse.com.