St. John Hospice

St. John Hospice helps people who are terminally ill die with dignity and compassion in a tranquil environment.

The concept behind St. John Hospice was born when a friend of Agnes Meeker, a sixth generation Antiguan, was terminally ill and had no family to care for her. Agnes, who was a well-known powerhouse in Antiguan civic endeavors, set her sights on starting the first hospice program in the Eastern Caribbean.

Founded in 2009, St. John Hospice provided only home-based palliative care, but many of the homes didn’t have running water or indoor plumbing. Also, patients were often left alone as family members had to go to work or school. It was clear that a better solution was needed, so Agnes leapt into action to bring her dream of a dedicated hospice facility to life.

Through relentless lobbying of government agencies, Agnes obtained the abandoned Gwenewth O’Reilly Ward of the old Holberton Hospital for the hospice facility; unfortunately, the building needed renovation and refurbishment to the tune of $750,000. With unflagging energy and optimism, Agnes rallied friends and local organizations to donate money and volunteer hours to help with the renovation, and the 11-bed facility finally opened its doors in 2011 with private rooms, comfortable visiting areas, and a professional and caring staff. It’s still the only hospice provider in the region.

“The support we get from the Mill Reef Fund is invaluable to our sustainability. With the Fund’s ongoing partnership, we can continue to offer our essential services to the terminally ill of Antigua and Barbuda.”

– Cathlyn Gilkes, Hospital Administrator, 2015-Present

The Mill Reef Fund provided financial support for the original renovation of the facility, and continues to fund ongoing maintenance. Work includes repairing cracked walls and a leaking roof, replacing termite-damaged kitchen cabinets, installing a ramp and rails in the outdoor gazebo, and purchasing a backup generator and fuel storage tank.