Judy Monych has devoted the last 14 years in her career to serving the Quesnel and District Hospice and Palliative Care Association (QDHPCA) with a commitment that continues even as she sets her retirement plans in motion.
When Judy’s mother was dying in Vancouver General Hospital in 1997, the family found the experience horrible.
“There were no services and no respectable place for us to grieve,” she said.
So when palliative advocate Carol Weremy asked Judy to be on the Quesnel palliative care board, she said yes without hesitation.
“I knew the basics about palliative care and of course had the experience with my mother, however I learned so much in those first couple of years on the board,” Judy said.
At that time services in Quesnel included a couple of rooms (not designated as palliative care beds), a quiet room and palliative volunteers were in place. Quesnel offered some services and plans were already underway for a dedicated hospice facility.
In 2005, Judy immersed herself even further in the organization, taking over as executive secretary.
“Shortly after I took the job, QDHPCA signed a memorandum of understanding with Northern Health for a hospice wing within the Dunrovin Park Lodge expansion,” she said.
With the establishment of a dedicated hospice facility, those facing the end of life journey, both patient and families can now experience a more tranquil, warm and supportive environment. Hospice is not about acute medical intervention but rather quality, comfortable care by medically-trained palliative care staff in an open, welcoming, modern, fully-equipped setting.
For Judy a big part of her job was fundraising but she readily admits she couldn’t have done it without QDHPCA, the volunteers, the community and all the generous contributors.
“The community is very supportive and everyone appreciates that all funds raised stayed in Quesnel, not to mention all the services we provide such as grief support,” she said.
Last weekend was Judy’s last official event, Hike for Hospice.
“I know I will miss all the activities, but I’m looking forward to passing the reins on to the new executive secretary Susan MacNeill,” she said.
“Susan has lots of community experience and will be able to step into this position with ease.”
“For now I’m stepping away completely and plan to spend my time on leisure activities, time with my family and just time for myself.”
Looking back on her years with QDHPCA, Judy said one of her favourite moments was the day the hospice facility opened.
“It was an exciting day and a special moment for the association. I had worked thousands of hours helping to bring that project to completion and it felt good.”
However, she said she will miss the people the most.
“The interaction with the business community, all the people I’ve met and of course all the volunteers who have given so much of their time and energy to palliative care,” Judy said.
“Being part of such an essential and worthwhile organization like QDHPCA, which provides dignity, support and understanding of people’s last journey, is an honour.”