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Toronto Star -

Casey House expansion a boon to people living with HIV/AIDS

Groundbreaking ceremony Monday for new 58,000-square-foot facility

By: Manisha Krishnan Staff Reporter

Mar 29 2015 - Todd Kaighin is all smiles — laughs, really — when discussing his 23-year-old HIV diagnosis.

“For a guy who was supposed to be dead 18 years ago, I think I'm doing pretty good,” the 53-year-old tells the Star with a deep chuckle, from inside Casey House, a Toronto hospital for people with advanced HIV/AIDS.

“I win big on that draw.”

Casey House, which opened its doors in 1988, is currently undergoing a massive expansion that will see it better equipped to treat patients like Kaighin — people who have beat the odds due to advancements in anti-retroviral therapy.

The facility is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony Monday. A renovated heritage mansion on Jarvis St. will serve as the new headquarters, adjacent to a brand new 58,000-square-foot building running east along Isabella St. The new facility is expected to open at the end of 2016.

According to Casey House CEO Stephanie Karapita, the project will double the hospital's 150-patient capacity and allow it to offer a much-needed day health program.

“The whole idea is we'll be able to keep our clients at home and independent while closely monitoring them,” she says.

There are approximately 20,000 Torontonians living with HIV. With more of them aging, Karapita says there are added medical challenges including the onset of conditions like cancer, heart disease and dementia.

“This is all uncharted territory,” she says.

The new day program will be a one-stop shop for frail clients, co-ordinating physicians, mental health specialists and therapies such as massage and recreation.

An award-winning design will continue Casey House's tradition of feeling more like home than a hospital.

“We wanted it to feel cozy and have nooks,” says Siamak Hariri, founding partner of Hariri Pontarini architects, which is heading up the project.

The highlight of the grounds is a “sliver courtyard” — so named because it is narrow — that provides a community feel, he says, allowing patients to relax and easily observe who else is around on any given day. The courtyard will also let plenty of light into the building.

New rooms, designed with patient input, will be bigger and meet current infection control standards.

Kaighin was first admitted to Casey House nine years ago, after suffering severe side effects from a drug cocktail. Describing the facility as a “gorgeous spa,” he says the treatment he's received over the years has been empowering.

“You're given all the care you need but … your independence is encouraged and enabled.”

Because of the neuromuscular skeletal pain he experiences, services like massage and acupuncture benefit him the most, he says.

Casey House offers in-patient, hospice, home care and outreach services. As part of its mandate, it strives to serve vulnerable patients for whom poverty, instability and stigma are barriers to care.


Source: Toronto Star

"Reproduced with permission - Torstar Syndication Services"

Toronto Star

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