As Robert Price toured the Hosparus Inpatient Center on Wednesday, he recalled the tender way the staff had treated his wife’s grandparents when they were patients at the downtown facility.
“They were angels. Complete angels,” Price said of the staff. Without fanfare, they “just do what they do. It’s certainly a wonderful way to honor somebody who’s in their last days.”
Price and his wife, Renee, were on hand this week as Hosparus Health unveiled a $1.3 million makeover of the inpatient center at the Norton Healthcare Pavilion at 315 E. Broadway.
The center serves seriously ill patients, who have life-limiting conditions, and their families.
“It’s a special level of care for patients that really need symptom control,” said Phil Marshall, Hosparus Health’s president and chief executive officer. “In other words, they’re really in pain, suffering and the family is very tired, so it’s a great option for them to be able to come here and really get the 24/7 support.”
Some patients have cancer. Others are dealing with conditions, such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or dementia.
“Dementia is actually the fastest-growing diagnosis in hospice,” Marshall said.
Hosparus Health supporters gathered at the center Wednesday for a ribbon cutting and unveiling of the renovation and expansion project.
“This is a really big day for us,” Marshall said during remarks.
Private donations from estates, corporations, organizations and individuals, such Al and Pat Fiorini, funded the expansion, which will help address a growing demand for hospice services as the country grapples with the silver tsunami of baby boomers marching into the senior ranks.
“For every level of care, there’s going to be more need going forward,” said Marshall.
The renovations added a third wing to the sixth-floor unit, increasing square footage from 13,582 to 18,390.
The unit now includes 27 beds instead of 25 and has a family lounge with a kitchenette, two private consultation rooms for doctors to meet with families, and additional space for enhanced outpatient hospice and palliative care services.
Other improvements include new classroom and event space, enhanced waiting areas for families who often come in large numbers, and a reconfigured nursing station for better customer service and workflow.
Cathy Zion, chair of the Hosparus Health Board of Directors, said the center has come a long way since 2003 when it was very sterile and institutional.
“The entire floor is now dedicated to providing a warm, welcoming home setting for patients and their families,” said Zion, whose mother required hospice care and has a room named after her at the center.
There’s also a meditation room with a waterfall feature.
“It’s a calming place where sometimes families can just go and take a few moments, clear their mind — do whatever,” said Melissa Burchett, community director at the center. “… Sometimes they may have to make really hard decisions.”
Robert Price attended the unveiling with fellow members of the River Cities Corvette Club, which holds a car show to benefit the center.
“Last year, we wrote a check for $28,000, and we’re hoping to exceed that this year,” said Price. “Each of us have an opportunity to give back and make end-of-life care something truly possible.”