Casey House has gotten a major redevelopment, thanks to a $38 million investment from the province.
Canada’s first and only free-standing hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS, Casey House’s expansion includes the renovation of an existing heritage structure and the addition of a new state-of-the-art, four-storey facility.
According to the provincial government, 2 to 3 people are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS every day in Ontario, and the redeveloped Casey House will continue to provide care for people from around the province.
The new 58,000-square-foot building provides space for a day-health program that will give 350 more people access to treatment through a combination of clinical services and community programs. This will more than double the number of people the hospital can serve, to a total of 650, said the province.
“After many years of stigma and loss, thanks to places like Casey House a positive diagnosis is no longer a death sentence,” said Premiere Kathleen Wynne in a statement. “For as long as Casey House has existed, it has provided crucial, compassionate care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS and for their loved ones. This expansion will allow Casey House to extend that care to even more people who need it, and our government is pleased to support this effort.”
Besides its new facility, Casey House also announced the opening of Canada’s first-ever HIV+ eatery.
A survey conducted by Casey House showed that despite the fact that HIV cannot be transmitted through food preparation or sharing of food, only half of Canadians would knowingly share food with or eat food prepared by someone who is HIV positive. This misconception inspired Casey House to open the world’s first pop-up restaurant run by HIV positive chefs.
The restaurant, June’s, which is named after Casey House’s founder and prolific Canadian activist June Callwood, will pop up in Toronto at 1090 Queen St. West from November 7 to 8 in collaboration with Chef Matt Basile of Fidel Gastro. Chef Basile will be working with 14 HIV+ individuals-turned-cooks to develop the menu, train, and cook for patrons when the restaurant opens.
“The stigma around HIV and AIDS is still very real, isolating many patients across the city, the country and the globe,” said Kenneth Poon, Casey House client. “I stand proud to be part of this powerful group of 14 HIV positive chefs to boldly break barriers and end the isolation that I have felt and others continue to feel. Through the compassionate care that I received at Casey House, I made it through those darkest days and I am here today, helping others who are living with HIV/AIDS.”
Casey House is more than a place that saves lives, according to the establishment’s CEO Joanne Simons.
“We are a place that shines understanding through compassion, and empower our clients to get better. We make our clients’ humanity more visible than their disease.”