Just in time for Christmas, the Cowichan Hospice House is hosting a virtual open house tonight.

The hospice house is meant for palliative patients and their families, giving loved ones the opportunity to spend the last moments of someone’s life outside of a cramped hospital room.

Executive Director of the Hospice House Gretchen Hartley said the rooms are gorgeous.

“There’s a bed that expands (it’s called a cuddle bed) so that if a loved one wants to snuggle up with you, they can. Pets are allowed for a visit and each room, of course, has a private bathroom, has a TV, a place to hang pictures, and storage,” said Hartley. “All of them have a view of gardens or of giant Garry Oak trees, and heritage homes.”

Hartley said COVID-19 safety protocols are in place, but visitations are permitted.

“People can have three or four family members on a list and then they can visit, one or two at a time,” said Hartley. “They ask people to plan those visits. There’s always a little bit of shifting and adjusting to what people need and also to ensure that everyone there is kept safe.”

Community organizations and individuals raised $4.6 million dollars for the facility and at a sod-turning ceremony, Minister of Health Adrian Dix said the Cowichan project is a shining example of what is possible at the community level.

“This project, the $10 million dollars raised locally, the support from Island Health, this is a model for other communities across BC,” said Dix.

The Cowichan Valley Regional Health District pledged $5.2 million dollars toward the new hospice house.

A virtual open house is set for 7 pm tonight on the Cowichan Hospice House Facebook page.