JoeAnna’s House pictured in 2019. The house has been in operation for a year. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

JoeAnna’s House pictured in 2019. The house has been in operation for a year. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

JoeAnna’s House celebrates its one-year anniversary

It’s been one year since JoeAnna’s House opened its doors to helping families

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A home away from home has been serving families from all over the province – and the world – for a full year.

JoeAnna’s House officially opened on Nov. 25, 2019, and started receiving guests right away. People from out of town with loved ones at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) stayed at the house, receiving support from KGH Foundation staff.

The house’s manager Darlene Haslock said they’ve seen 345 families come through their doors.

“But those 345 families brought close to 700 guests because, for some families, their loved ones are at the hospital for quite a while, so they cycle through people. The longest stay we’ve had is 70 nights. It was a family whose parents were in a head-on collision,” she said.

She added families who’ve stayed at the house have all had positive feedback.

“When they get here, they know this is a safe place. They know that they are supported and they’re close to their loved ones… people feel supported not just by staff, but by other guests and our volunteers.”

“I think that’s the biggest thing, is the support that people get when they’re here. They don’t probably know that they need it until they have an opportunity to open up about what’s going on with their lives,” she said.

Haslock said when COVID-19 first hit B.C., they did see a decrease in people staying at the house. As people stayed home, there were fewer vehicle incidents, which meant there were fewer people at the hospital for treatment. As surgeries were put on hold, there were also fewer people travelling to Kelowna to be with their families.

But they kept their doors open because families still needed them. Babies were still being born, with some families staying because their baby was pre-term and needed to be at the hospital for longer.

The house has a robust COVID-19 safety protocol, which guests strictly follow to keep their loved ones safe. JoeAnna’s House also offers space to accommodate physical distancing.

Haslock said now that there are more rules and restrictions in place, they’ve seen a decrease in people coming to stay at the house, but they will keep their doors open.

KGH Foundation CEO Doug Rankmore said he wanted to thank the community for their support and he hopes Kelowna will continue to support JoeAnna’s House.

“The reason this is here is because of the community and the reason it will continue to stay here is because of the community,” he said.

“We did this together. I’ve got to emphasize how important it is to people that the community support this amazing place for people… the support of the community… but that’s really a support to somebody in their darkest days, so thank you.”

READ: JoeAnna’s House officially opens


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

City of Kelowna