The problem of mice in the palliative care unit of a Halifax hospital is shining a light on an even bigger issue – the state of end-of-life care across the Maritimes.

Patient Heather Farthing, who has a rare form of sarcoma, told CTV News on Tuesday that she has spotted several mice in her room at the VG.

“There should be a place for loved ones to come and spend time comfortably with the people that are not going to go home,” said Farthing.

The Capital District Health Authority said a pest problem has been identified and is being addressed, but the leader of the opposition is asking the province to find a long-term solution.

“We need an absolute plan to replace that site in a way that makes sure that Nova Scotians get modern, first-world health care, because they’re not getting it there,” said Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie.

Nova Scotia Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine said the rodents are a part of a larger issue of a deteriorating building.

Glavine also said he’s been assured that Capital Health is dealing with the mice and he plans to meet with the CEO of Capital Health on Friday.

“To make sure that this is a one-time situation, one part of the hospital that they’re dealing with, but it’s made everyone much more aware,” said Glavine.

While some officials question why palliative care is being provided at the Victoria General Hospital, others are pointing to a lack of hospice care outside of hospitals.

Wendy Fraser, CEO of the Hospice Society of Greater Halifax, says hospices are far and few between in Canada.

There is only one hospice in the Maritimes – Bobby’s Place in Saint John – but most palliative patients end up at the VG in Halifax.

“The statistics suggest that, at any given time in Halifax right now, there are 28 people dying in a hospital bed,” said Fraser.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the nicest, cleanest, newest hospital in the entire country, that’s not the same as being in a place that feels like home.”

Fraser said hospices aren’t just a more compassionate option for patients; they are also a more affordable option. She said it costs about $1,000 a day to keep a patient in an acute care bed in hospital, compared to about $450 per day for a patient to stay at a hospice.

She also said she hopes Nova Scotia’s first hospice will open in Halifax in 2016.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Alyse Hand