She started in New Lowell, now she’s here.
For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we spoke with Trish Rawn, 52, newly named executive director of Hospice Georgian Triangle.
Q: Have you always lived in the Collingwood area?
A: My whole life. I grew up in New Lowell and I’ve lived and worked in Clearview and the South Georgian Bay area forever. I went to New Lowell Public School and Stayner High School.
I went on to Barrie for college and then moved on to some other areas for other degrees.
Q: For what did you go to school?
A: I graduated from a nursing program from Georgian College in Barrie. I went on to get my Bachelor of Sciences in nursing through Ryerson University. I specialized in palliative care nursing through the Canadian Nurses Association in 2004. I went on to earn a Master’s degree in nursing and graduated in 2016.
Q: What made you decide to go into nursing as a career?
A: Both my dad and my uncle were polio survivors. My uncle always walked with a brace and my dad had some issues with residual paralysis. My dad went on to have heart disease at an early age. When I was in Grade 8, my dad had a heart attack.
I kind of always knew I wanted to be a nurse after that. I just knew that was what I was meant to do.
Q: What made you decide to specialize in palliative care?
A: I felt like I had a bit of a knowledge base when it came to death and dying. I felt like I needed to do it well for families.
It just turned out it was something I was always able to do. I could talk to families, explore their options and have those difficult conversations.
I’ve always had the philosophy that, if somebody is told they don’t have a cure, that didn’t mean they don’t get really good care. We can make that final journey be the best it could be.
You might not be able to change their trajectory, but you can change how it went.
Once I started doing palliative care, I went on to be a nurse consultant. It was a passion. It still is.
It’s just something that’s really important to me.
Q: At what point did you start working for Hospice Georgian Triangle?
A: I came here in 2019 as interim executive director.
Previous to that, I had been a palliative care consulting nurse in Collingwood from 2008 to 2017. In 2017, a new 10-bed hospice space was opening in Newmarket, and I went as the director of care.
When I heard Hospice Georgian Triangle may have an opening... I had always wanted to come back.
So I came back.
Q: Why is hospice and palliative care so important?
A: When people think about death and dying, I think they see it as something very final.
Often, when people are dying, there are great opportunities. Sometimes there are opportunities to have meaningful conversations you may not have had in your day-to-day life.
If you don’t have the knowledge that you’re dying, you sometimes don’t get the opportunity to have those conversations and moments.
When people are dying it’s usually just simple things they want, like time with family, or have a cup of Timmies, or see the water one more time.
Often, people will think there’s a loss of hope.
Truthfully, in my experience, the majority of the time people just re-frame hope. They hope for different things, like getting to a special occasion or getting to see a grandchild being born. People are amazingly resilient.
Part of my life’s work is, once people have the knowledge they might not be curable, then they can really make some decisions. People usually have a lot more anxiety about the unknown, than they do when they actually know.
It seems to bring them some solace.
Q: Now that you’ve been named executive director, do you have anything you’d like to bring to the table for the future of Hospice Georgian Triangle?
A: In the middle of the pandemic we did manage to open our additional four beds to respite. They’re generally for people to come in who are in a pain and symptom management crisis, or for caregiver relief, for shorter stays.
My hopes are that that program will be fully utilized and that will keep people out of the emergency department.
We also opened a downtown office. We’re really excited about that.
We’re hoping to have some really robust community programming at that location. There’s a lot of residual grief from the pandemic in general, and angst from dealing with the loss of loved ones due to the pandemic.
Really soon, we’re hoping to bring people in face-to-face to be able to provide those supports in person.
Q: Do you have any interests or hobbies outside of your work you’d like to share?
A: I’ve always had a strong interest in horses. I don’t have any horses at the present time because my job is too busy. I love animals and hiking, nature walks and camping. I like hanging out with my adult children, when we get through the pandemic. (laughs)
My son is 28 and lives in Collingwood. My daughter is 26 and lives in Edmonton.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like people in Collingwood to know about you?
A: This is my stomping ground. I have strong relationships with health care here. I feel very invested in the community and the health of the community from birth until death.
I think sometimes people think about palliative care outside of the realm of health. If we take really good care of our people who require palliative care then we’re actually building the health and resilience of the family.
It can make a huge difference to those around you.
I can’t believe how generous this community is. Through this pandemic, they’ve done everything they can to support Hospice. It’s been eye-opening.
Also, the month of May is Hike or Bike Month for Hospice Georgian Triangle. We’re working our way toward a $140,000 goal this year.
Anytime I can get the word out, I try to! (laughs)
For our feature People of Collingwood, we’ll be speaking with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature will run on CollingwoodToday every Saturday. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email email@example.com.