Ground was broken at the future site for Jeneece Place at Victoria General Hospital.
Once an idea, Jeneece Edroff’s dream is now on its way to becoming tangible. The doors of a home-away-from-home for families with a child at VGH should be open by Christmas.
At the building site, Edroff, 17, sat in the backhoe with an operator to commemorate the ceremony. In a sea of white hard hats, Edroff’s was bright pink.
“Because you have the only different coloured hard hat on, shows you are the one running the show,” said Ida Chong, minister of community, sport and cultural development.
Jeneece Place, once built, will be located on the grounds of the VGH with eight rooms to accommodate families who need to travel to Victoria for care at the hospital. It will also have a kitchen, living, dining and play areas.
In 2008 and 2009, more than 1,000 kids and youth from outside Victoria were admitted to VGH, and stayed an average of 6.5 days. “It’s not only going to be a structure, but it will meet the needs of families,” Chong said.
After thanking everyone for their support in making her dream “believable,” Edroff announced “we are still a little short” in terms of donations.
Prior to this event Edroff said about $4 million had been raised towards the project. Another $750,000 was donated during the ceremony in cash and in-kind donations by corporations, local businesses and non-profits groups. The project will cost an estimated $5.5 million.
“This has been (almost three) years in the making and I’ve heard that is very fast for Vancouver Island,” Edroff said.
Edroff was acknowledged by many at the ceremony and thanked for all her hard work. “You have made a difference young lady … on behalf of this town, we salute you,” said Royal View Mayor Graham Hill.
Don Hubbard, Vancouver Island Health Authority board chair, said the future site of Jeneece Place is a “perfect location.” He referenced VGH having the largest pediatric care unit on Vancouver Island.
“Having children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I know parents will travel any distance to get their children care,” Hubbard said. “The opportunity to walk to a child’s bedside in a moment’s notice is an incredible thing.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Edroff. At age three she was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a condition where tumors grow on nerve pathways. Over her life she has had numerous surgeries and travels to Vancouver often for care.
“It means so much to have a place to stay when you are in hospital,” Edroff said. “Being close to the hospital is better than being 10 minutes away.”