dart donates land for hospicecare group photo

Dart donates land for new Cayman HospiceCare facility

In June, Cayman HospiceCare broke ground on its future home, a dedicated facility for dignified, end-of-life care on a 1.15 acre lot donated by the Dart group.

When completed, the facility will mark a new chapter for Cayman HospiceCare, which has been making an impact on the community for more than 20 years by offering comfortable care, free of charge, to those living with chronic or end-stage terminal disease.

Cayman HospiceCare’s story started in 1996 when Tim Shea, a young Irish attorney with the law firm Hunter & Hunter, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Shea’s wish was to leave hospital and spend his final days at home, a wish that his friends helped to grant by arranging for him to receive round-the-clock care by two local nurses, who volunteered their time. Following Shea’s death, Cayman HospiceCare was born with the goal of making end-of-life care free and available to all those living in the Cayman Islands.

Over the years, the organisation grew from one nurse and one caregiver based out of Hospice Cottage and later Conch Shell House, to the current roster of one part-time and three full-time nurses, two full-time caregivers, an administrator and a fundraising and operations manager. The new facility, scheduled for completion in summer 2018, will include a four-bed respite facility and administrative offices.

dart derek haines completing marathon
Derek Haines

Marathon effort

Reaching the beginning of the construction phase was a culmination of a vast amount of work, support and fundraising by the local community, including the extraordinary efforts of one man in particular — Dart Enterprises’ Senior Manager of Security and Community Relations Derek Haines.

Over drinks in a pub one evening, Haines, then 65 years old, was challenged by a group of friends to raise more than $1 million to fund the building of the new HospiceCare site. Over 2014, in one of the most successful private fundraising efforts in Cayman Islands history, Haines completed six marathons to surpass expectations and raise CI $1.35 million for the new facility. Starting with the Paris Marathon in early April, he then went on to run in London, Spain, San Francisco and Dublin, before finishing his feat in the Cayman Islands Marathon in December.

Haines had plenty of backing from the corporate, sporting and social community and his efforts led him to become the single-biggest fundraiser for Cayman HospiceCare. The benefits of Haines’s effort went beyond funding, as it also helped to raise awareness of the service HospiceCare provides.

cayman government and dart breaking ground on hospicecare facility

“Although death is a subject that touches us all at some point, it still remains a topic that many people will go to great lengths to avoid talking about,” says Haines. “However, as the recent ground breaking of the new HospiceCare facility has shown, death can also provide some of the most uplifting stories of kindness, strength and the extraordinary power of the human spirit.”

Following Haines’s extraordinary fundraising efforts, Dart agreed in 2015 to donate land to Cayman HospiceCare, rent free, on which to build its new facility. Local architect John Doak also agreed to provide the designs for the building free of charge.

Tree relocation

Centrally located on West Bay Road, the site chosen was part of the Arboretum Nursery, Ken Dart’s private collection of trees and plants established over 20 years ago. The decision presented management and staff at the nursery with the daunting task of saving more than 150 trees.

“It had palms, Ficus, royal poinciana, big trees, small trees, oddly shaped trees, you name it," said Giles Smith, Dart Real Estate's Nursery & Landscape Operations Manager who managed the project of relocating as many of the trees from the building site as possible. "The relocation of trees in the midst of a development site is a concept that is widely encouraged and almost always expected among the many projects undertaken by Dart."

Transplanting trees is no easy task. It requires careful assessment and preparation of each individual specimen, specialist equipment (the caravan of escort vehicles moving the trees often left at 4am to minimise traffic disruption), and close monitoring for several months afterwards. The whole process can take up to a year in total.

Many of the trees moved from the site have been used to landscape the new stretch of the Esterley-Tibbetts highway to the south of Camana Bay. The relocation was a delicate and work-intensive process, but for the management and staff of the Arboretum Nursery, it was a labour of love.

"Trees are a renewable resource, but only when cared for properly," Smith said. "This is our way of helping to maintain the unique diversity of the Cayman Islands landscape."

Once the trees had been relocated, construction work could begin on the site.

derek haines with vp community development chris duggan

Breaking ground

One of the people at the ceremonial ground breaking in June was Dart Enterprises VP of Community Development Chris Duggan, who has a close personal connection to Cayman HospiceCare. Duggan’s late father, Nick, was a friend of Shea and helped organise his care in his final days. Duggan’s mother, Jeannette, was one of the nurses who volunteered to work with Shea. Years later, Nick Duggan himself would become a patient of Cayman HospiceCare before his death in 2006. Chris Duggan later joined the board of Cayman HospiceCare and has served as its chairman for the last four years.

At the ground breaking, a memorial box filled with the names of former Hospice patients was buried on the site.

“We really wanted those patients who formed the foundations of Cayman HospiceCare to be memorialised in the actual foundations of the new building, which will undoubtedly go on to serve individuals and their families within our community for many decades to come,” Duggan says.