Paige Karczynski is the new executive director of Nanaimo Community Hospice Society. (Photo submitted)

Paige Karczynski is the new executive director of Nanaimo Community Hospice Society. (Photo submitted)

New executive director leading Nanaimo hospice at a time when grief counselling is greatly needed

Paige Karczynski takes over as Nanaimo Community Hospice Society begins its 40th year

Hospice in Nanaimo is doing what it can in a time of sickness, death and grief, when its services are badly needed.

Nanaimo Community Hospice Society is adapting to different ways of delivering services in a pandemic, and one of the people leading that transition is new executive director Paige Karczynski.

Karczynski was appointed to her position at the end of November. She said she’s had personal experience with hospice services in Ontario which “left a huge mark” on her and her family and fuelled passion.

She’s thrilled with her team at Nanaimo Community Hospice, who she said have done a great job adapting in the pandemic.

“It’s been a weird year with COVID and they’ve had to reimagine operations and fundraising events and we’ve lost that personal touch…” Karczynski said. “One silver lining from this whole thing is we’ve opened up some ideas as to how to continue certain things virtually or have a mixed delivery method of programs and services.”

There are 250 volunteers who have been impacted by changes. Volunteers don’t stop in at the hospice house, for example, and in-person visits at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s palliative care unit have been suspended. But they’re still finding a way to connect with those who need help, Karczynski said, as volunteers who are more tech-savvy have assisted their peers. Grief counsellors, she said, can actually help more clients in day over the phone and on Zoom than they could in-person.

The continuity of service is important, Karczynski said, as she believes everyone has been struggling whether or not they’re dealing with death or dying, and isolation has been challenging.

“Those that are grieving death and dying and couldn’t see someone because [they] couldn’t go into the hospital – even funerals now having to happen virtually or in a certain setting – lots of people are grieving and struggling with that…” she said. “With that happening, we definitely have overcome and welcomed different resources like moving virtually.”

Karczynski takes over as executive director in time for Nanaimo Community Hospice’s 40th anniversary this year, and she said there will be some manner of celebration, even if it has to be virtual. The society hopes its Hike for Hospice can happen, and it’s close to announcing details of a dream home lottery.

“We’re really thankful that our community has stood by us during this time,” Karczynski said. “We wouldn’t be able to keep our lights on and our doors open without the community support and donations.”

Karczynski takes over from Jeanne Fahlman, who had been interim executive director since last summer and is now director of development.

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Posted by Nanaimo News Bulletin on Tuesday, December 15, 2020

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