Desert Valley Hospice Society is committed to supporting excellence in the delivery of hospice palliative care, end-of-life care, and bereavement support services for the communities of Oliver, Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls. The goal of end-of-life care is the same regardless of setting: to ensure the best possible quality of life for clients and their families. ​​


In 2005, a group of hospice volunteers saw a need and discussed the practicality 
of starting a society in order to accumulate and direct fund raised dollars as 
the new society saw fit.  The practice at the time was for funds to be directed to 
​the hospital’s foundation. On August 25, 2006, the society was formed under 
the name, “Desert Valley Hospice Society”, with four directors at the helm:  

​Trudy Demorest, President
Kay Yuckin, Vice President
Jeannette Stapleton, Treasurer
Merrill Bjerkan, Secretary

Then in January 2007, the Society became a registered charity.  The Society’s goals at the time were to raise awareness around hospice palliative care, and to fundraise to build a freestanding hospice house. The Society had success in fundraising through different events including large annual events such as the Hike for Hospice Palliative Care, an annual wine & cheese and auction, as well as smaller events including membership drives, car washes, and a fashion show among others. From the beginning, the communities of Oliver and Osoyoos have been very supportive, with many businesses and organizations donating funds and / or proceeds for the events.

By 2010, the Society had successfully fundraised $120,000. At the Annual General Meeting that year, additional members were added to the board. The new board consisted of:  Janet Shaw, President; Lois Brummet, Vice President; Trudy Demorest, Past President; Henry Wiebe, Secretary; Merrill Bjerkan, Treasurer. Directors at Large were Hank O’Handley, Dave Shaw, Karen Fleming, Catherine Hahn, Darren Pottinger, Susan Capyk and Betty Lou Trimmer-Bahnsen.

In 2011, the DVHS Board of Directors recognized the critical importance of developing a Strategic Plan to guide the work of the Society. Without a strong framework from which to work, the Board believed it would struggle to achieve the Society’s mission and values. The Board engaged a consultant to help establish the Strategic Plan. As part of the first phase of the project, an assessment of the current end-of-life and palliative care services in the South Okanagan local health area was conducted. The state of care was measured against Provincial and Interior Health expectations. The assessment determined a current need for six palliative care beds, a need which was expected to grow to 10 beds within 15 years. From this assessment came a Business Case Proposal to establish a free standing six bed Hospice House. In 2012, a three-year Strategic Plan was completed. As well, a service contract between DVHS and Interior Health was signed allowing Desert Valley to provide hospice volunteer programs within Interior Health.

Currently, palliative care is provided in the South Okanagan General Hospital in two designated Palliative Care Rooms and two rooms at Mariposa in Osoyoos. The patients are cared for by a team consisting of Palliative Care Nurses, hospital and facility nursing staff and DVHS Hospice Volunteers. In addition, palliative care is provided cooperatively with Hospice Volunteers, Palliative Care Nurses and staff in care facilities, as well as at the homes of individuals. Desert Valley is committed to advocating for excellence in end-of-life care within Interior Health and the community at large. The Strategic Plan helped DVHS develop a better profile in the community from which to create awareness of the Society and its goals.

One of the key strategic objectives included the need to establish and maintain a Supportive Care Centre from which the society could operate. With the support of the provincial government and BC Housing, Desert Valley Hospice Society secured an agreement effective September 1, 2014 to operate a Supportive Care Centre at 22 Jonagold Place in Osoyoos. The building houses the administrative offices and provides the meeting space for the board and its committees. Hospice volunteer training and continuing education, grief and bereavement support, our weekly Supportive Care Day Program, and other programs and services. Future plans to include a Respite Care Centre for our community residents are in the planning and development stages.


Donna Gordan moved to to the South Okanagan in 2017 to join Desert Valley Hospice Society as the Executive Director. Her  background includes fundraising, extensive marketing experience and nine years management experience with a public relations firm in Las Vegas. She is responsible for  overseeing day-to-day activities, developing organizational culture and business plans, grant writing, and directing the Society’s organizational strategy.  After four years, she is still excited to experience the energy and vision of the Society and to fulfill the mission of the society in the communities of Osoyoos, Oliver and Okanagan Falls.  Donna is a trained Hospice Volunteer. Prior to joining DVHS, she had a personal connection with hospice and palliative care and senior citizens by caring for a family member and a co-worker. Donna enjoys  physical fitness, gardening and  movies. She volunteers at a local theatre group and Venables Theatre. 

 Michelle Gnutzman moved to Osoyoos in 2016 from southern Ontario. Michelle had a long and successful career in education and visual production before taking early retirement . Michelle joined the staff of Desert Valley Hospice in January of 2019, as Programs Assistant. Michelle completed her Hospice Volunteer Training in Spring 2020. As a staff member, she coordinates a variety of Hospice programs and volunteer programs, such as the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in Osoyoos, our Nav-CARE Community Resource Book, and records and edits all of the videos of our Memories and Messages program. Her design skills and expertise have been appreciated by the Events and Communication Committee as well as the Society as a whole