Jeneece Place construction underway at VGH

Jeneece Edroff’s dream of having a home-away-from-home for families with a child in hospital should be reality by Christmas.

At groundbreaking ceremonies for the facility last week, Edroff, 17, sat in a backhoe with an operator. In a sea of white hard hats, hers was bright pink.

Jeneece Place is being built on the grounds of Victoria General Hospital. Its eight rooms will accommodate families who need to travel to Victoria for care at the hospital. The facility will also have a kitchen, and living, dining and play areas.

After thanking everyone for their support in making her dream “believable,” Edroff announced “we are still a little short” in terms of donations.

She said about $4 million had been raised towards the project. Another $750,000 was donated during the ceremony in cash and in-kind donations. The project will cost an estimated $5.5 million.

“This has been (almost three) years in the making. I’ve heard that is very fast for Vancouver Island,” she said.

Don Hubbard, Vancouver Island Health Authority board chair, called the building site “perfect.” VGH has 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,” he 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 3 she was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a condition where tumors grow on nerve pathways. She has had numerous surgeries and often travels to Vancouver for care.

“It means so much to have a place to stay when you are in hospital. Being close by is better than being 10 minutes away.”