Montreal Children’s Hospital to offer free accommodation for out-of-town parents of sick kids receiving care

"A whole load off their shoulders," says Dina Bourdakos of Pavillon Kat Demes, named after her late daughter. The facility will be a home away from home for out-of-town families of sick kids at the Montreal Children's Hospital. Pamela Pagano reports.

By News Staff

A new “home away from home” will open in Montreal for out-of-town families whose sick children are receiving care at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

The Pavillon Kat Demes, which the hospital calls “donor driven,” will be Quebec’s only facility offering free, temporary accommodation for parents.

“We’re proud,” said Dina Bourdakos, Kat Demes’ mother. “My daughter’s name is up there on a sign, but at the same time we’re happy to be able to help families in the future.”

Pavillon Kat Demes, a five-minute walk from the Montreal Children’s Hospital, offers free accommodation for out-of-town parents of sick kids receiving care. (Pamela Pagano, CityNews)

Located a five-minute walk from the hospital — at 5004 de Maisonneuve Boulevard — it is expected to open in early spring.

There will be six private bedrooms — with a queen-sized bed and workspace — and private washrooms. There will also be a common living room with a television, laundry facilities and an outdoor terrasse. Free breakfast will be included.

It all began with a lazy eye.

Bourdakos thought glasses is what was needed – little did the family know, she didn’t need her eyes examined, she needed her brain examined.

“When she got sick, believe me, I was up every morning,” said Peter Demes, Kat’s father. “I hardly slept, all I did was work and concentrate on the family.”

An inoperable cancerous brain tumor – Kat underwent radiation, and fought the battle with her family and favorite toys by her side but passed away in 2015 – she was 5 years old.

“Kat was your typical five year old,” said Perry Giannias, Kat’s uncle and founder, Expos Fest. “She was a dancer, she loved music.”

“She was a good kid,” he added. “Just caught the worst of breaks.”

Kat Demes with her hair braided. (Submitted by: Demes family)

The Demes family, which has already raised $1 million for the Children’s through Expos Fest, has pledged to raise an additional $2 million for the Pavillon Kat Demes. An additional $2.5 million was donated by Loblaw Companies Limited.

Employees and volunteers will be on location, with the Children’s Hospital Foundation managing the day-to-day operations.

Requests for accommodations will be handled by the hospital’s social services. They anticipate “several hundred stays per year.”

“The ultimate goal is to make families feel comfortable,” said Diana D’Addio, Professional Coordinator, Social Services, Montreal Children’s Hospital. “And have a safe space and in addition to that, really sharing their stories with others that are in similar situations.”

Press conference at the new Pavillon Kat Demes, Jan. 23, 2024. (Pamela Pagano, CityNews)

“It’s a nice detour now,” said Demes. “I come by here and just see it, it’s like she’s there.”

Tears filled the room as the family spoke at Tuesday’s press conference and a moving music video by Dee Snider played.

Press conference at the new Pavillon Kat Demes, Jan. 23, 2024. (Pamela Pagano, CityNews)

Bourdakos had only seen the pavilion through its windows during construction – seeing it done – truly moved her.

The ribbon was cut – and the space is set to open in the spring.

“I had to come to the hospital with Kat for 31 straight days for radiation,” said Bourdakos. “I live in Laval, it wasn’t a problem, yes, I stopped working but at least we didn’t have to think about hotel and food and board and all that stuff.”

“So to us, helping in that way, helping the families be near their children,” she added. “It takes a whole load off their shoulders.”

“One less thing for them to worry about.”

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