Duchess of Cornwall officially opens Jasmine Villa hospice

As part of Their Royal Highnesses’ visit to the Cayman Islands, The Duchess of Cornwall officially opened the new Jasmine Villa on Thursday March 28, 2019. Her Royal Highness was joined at the opening ceremony by Elisabeth Roper, wife of the Governor of the Cayman Islands, Joey Hew, Minister of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure, and Chris Duggan, Jasmine Board Chairman and Vice President of Business Development at Dart.

The 6,000 square-foot, purpose-built facility will enable Jasmine, formerly Cayman HospiceCare, to provide hospice care for the terminally ill, palliative care for those with debilitating pain, and support services for struggling caregivers and grieving survivors.

Mr. Duggan, Jasmine Board Chairman and Vice President of Business Development at Dart, says the formal opening of Jasmine Villa represents years of community effort.

“It was a proud moment not only for all of us involved in Jasmine but the entire Cayman Islands community because this building really is a testament to the generosity and amazing fundraising efforts undertaken by the Cayman community over the last few years,” he says. “We certainly appreciated Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall officially opening Jasmine Villa. It was a very proud moment for us as we open this incredible building.”

Of the many individuals who provided invaluable support to the project, perhaps none is more synonymous with the project than Derek Haines.

Mr. Haines approached Jasmine with the idea to run six marathons in a year to raise $1 million towards the construction of Jasmine Villa. Mr. Duggan says the Board considered his offer for approximately five to 10 seconds before saying ‘yes’.

“What followed is really one of the most remarkable fundraising stories ever told in the Cayman Islands and, in December 2014, as Derek crossed the finish line of the Cayman Islands Marathon, he smashed his $1 million target and raised closer to $1.3 million,” he says.

Mr. Haines, who was a Dart employee at the time of his historic fundraising campaign, was awarded an MBE for his contributions to Jasmine.

“The next challenge was we had nowhere to put the building,” Mr. Duggan says. ‘And then we had the incredibly generous offer from Dart for a piece of land that would be big enough to build what we wanted to build. Ultimately, we were offered this location which is perfect in so many ways.”

Located off West Bay Road, the 1.15 acres that are now home to Jasmine Villa were previously part of the Dart arboretum and home to a large number of established trees that were relocated to accommodate the new facility. Site preparations also included the demolition of four buildings, the relocation of the entry road into the arboretum, and the relocation of public utilities. Dart then filled the site to eight feet above sea level, and designed and constructed a new road to Jasmine Villa.

In addition to Dart’s contributions, Mr. Duggan says many other local businesses contributed free labour or services, and provided, as a donation or at cost, materials, furnishings, fixtures and even landscaping. The Cayman Islands Government also supported the project through a duty waiver on imported materials.

“Jasmine Villa has been financed exclusively by contributions from the Cayman Islands community. It was an absolutely remarkable effort,” he says.

Commenting on the unique features of the new facility, Mr. Duggan says architect John Doak donated his services to design Jasmine Villa in a way that addressed practical requirements while encompassing the charm and warmth of traditional Cayman architecture. In addition to four, large patient rooms, a central nurses station and an ambulance entrance, the facility also includes administrative offices and meeting rooms.

“Hospice is all about looking after our patient in a home environment but sometimes the home environment isn’t conducive to looking after our patients so we need to bring them into the Villa so we wanted to make it the perfect home,” he says.

Mark VanDevelde, Dart Chief Executive Officer, says the new, purpose-built facility will be an important asset to the Cayman Islands’ community.

“We are pleased to have joined efforts with so many outstanding business partners, organisations and individuals to help this long-held vision become a reality,” Mr. VanDevelde says. “I extend my congratulations to the Jasmine team on the incredible accomplishment of opening the first purpose-built hospice and palliative care facility in the Cayman Islands.”

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