All the comforts of home in a comforting, tasteful atmosphere. That is Hernando-Pasco Hospice's goal at its new 24-suite, 28,000-square-foot Hospice Care Center, which will begin accepting patients later this month.
A public open house and grand opening will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday on the hospice campus at 12242 Cortez Blvd.
Since 2000, the agency has leased a 13-room wing at Brooksville Care Center for Hernando patients who require acute care. Now, the new $6 million building, 15 months in construction, will provide accommodations for patients who require short-term, round-the-clock care due to medical needs, said Robin Kocher, director of community relations.
"We found that we had a great waiting list," Kocher said, prompting the construction of hospice's own in-house care center.
"When (patients) are in the hospital and there's only a couple of days left, with severe pain and other issues, it's just too taxing to deal with that at home," she pointed out.
Hospice provides some type of service to more than 60 percent of the people who die in Hernando County.
At the Hospice Care Center, most patients will stay three to five days, Kocher estimated.
The center differs from Hospice House, an eight-unit facility on the campus that accommodates patients who don't have caregivers at home, Kocher explained.
Local resident Ronald Murray experienced a care center's ministrations firsthand when his father, 85-year-old Kempton Murray, checked into Hernando-Pasco Hospice's care center in Dade City in February 2007 after suffering a stroke and enduring many doctor visits. Ronald Murray will recount his experience at Tuesday's opening ceremony.
"Calling hospice was the best decision we ever made," Murray said. "(Dad's) quality of life improved in a beautiful facility surrounded by angels. All the caregivers — words cannot express the genuine care. I could go there at 2 o'clock in the morning, and they were there."
Likewise, families and pets will be welcomed at the new Spring Hill center. Couches with pull-out beds are provided in each suite, as well as coffee tables, bureaus or closets, handicapped-accessible bathrooms, semiprivate patios beyond French doors, and televisions.
Each of the three wings — designated and decorated in blue colors for the sea wing, tan for the earth wing and green for the grass wing — is tranquil its design.
Nearby in each wing are "quiet areas" with comfortable seating for those who perhaps don't want to talk in front of a patient, those who want to consult with a chaplain or bereavement counselor or those who just want to reflect.
A kitchen staffed by a chef and volunteers will prepare such foods as sandwiches and soup for patients and their families. An adjacent dining room provides eight tables with seating for four at each.
A nearby kitchen offers patients and visitors a refrigerator in which to store their own food and snacks.
Hospice also stocks the user-friendly kitchen. "We try to keep something around the clock," Kocher said.
There is no cost to the patient or family for use of the Hospice Care Center, Kocher said. Medicare, Medicaid and some insurance companies may pay a portion of a stay. "When patients reach us, they've gone through a lot of their resources," she said.
Caring for those in need is hospice's mission, Kocher said, adding, "We receive generous donations from the community (that cover most of the operating costs)."
A portion of the cost to build the care center was raised through donations; the remainder was financed.
For those who still want to contribute, but cannot sponsor the furnishing of a room, gazebo or other major undertaking, hospice is selling engraved memorial bricks for its centerpiece outdoor porch: $100 for a traditionally sized brick, $250 for a double-sized one. To purchase a brick, call hospice's development department toll-free 1-800-486-8784.
A number of individuals and businesses have contributed money to fund furnishings of patient rooms, family lounges and offices, and build gazebos on the 10-acre campus.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.