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Casey House breaks ground on facility that merges old and new

When Casey House was established in 1988 as Canada’s first stand-alone treatment facility for people with HIV/AIDS, the founders talked about opening a day program which would welcome non-residential clients could just drop by. “But they were so overwhelmed and exhausted [by the AIDS crisis], they had to put a pause on that,” says current CEO Stephanie Karapita.
Now, after more than decade of serious planning and fundraising, Casey House will finally be offering a day health program in a new 58,000-square-foot facility being built adjacent to its current premises. A ground-breaking ceremony this week marked the beginning of a construction project at the corner of Jarvis and Isabella streets which will see an existing 1875 heritage mansion renovated and integrated into purpose-built facility designed by award-winning architect Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontarini Architects.
The new building will finally give Casey House the space to offer a day health program in addition to in-patient and home-care programs. But amidst the new modern design—which doubles the existing space and doubles the number of clients Casey House can serve—the new building had to maintain the feelings of compassion that’s been so closely connected to the original and current building at 9 Huntley St.
“Our goal all along has been creating a place that’s beautiful and warm and home-like,” says Karapita, “and when you walk in the front door of the new Casey House, the very first thing you’ll see is a living room with big, huge fireplace, just as in the case of our building today.”
The fireplace is not the only element that connects the new building to the old one. When the move happens in 2016, some of the stained glass will move, too, as well as the tradition of lighting a candle in the window whenever a patient dies.
But to meet the news of the new day health program, there will be lots of new spaces, including a nursing clinic, a physical therapy room, massage rooms, an art therapy room and a number of meeting rooms. A narrow outdoor area that allows patients to socialize, has been dubbed the “sliver courtyard.” Casey House has raised $8.7 million of the $10 million it’s contributing the project.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Stephanie Karapita
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