Hospice House set to open - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Hospice House set to open

Idaho's first inpatient hospice facility to be dedicated next week

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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Simple, peaceful, comfortable, homelike.

Those were the design goals for planners of Hospice of North Idaho's new Hospice House facility at 2290 W. Prairie Ave.

A preview tour taken Tuesday revealed an ambiance that hits all the marks.

After 10 months of construction and years of planning, workers this week are putting the final touches on a building that feels safe, solid and tranquil.

"It's going to be beautiful," said Amanda Miller, director of community development for Hospice of North Idaho.

Hospice House will be the first inpatient hospice facility in the state of Idaho.

A grand opening event, with a community dedication and open house, is set to take place next week, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The public is welcome.

They expect their first patient the second week of August.

Heavy wood beams frame the arched entrance way, and a fireplace greets all who enter. The walls are lined with layers of stone. Large glass windows and windowed doors are placed throughout the facility.

"The rooms are all oriented to let as much natural light in as possible," Miller said.

Dozens of volunteers arrive nightly to work on the landscape. Pots of flowers awaiting planting line the driveway and walkways. The opening of the facility marks a new chapter in Hospice of North Idaho's three decades of serving the region's terminally ill and those who love them.

The community-owned nonprofit's staff and volunteers provide expert, end-of-life care, regardless of ability to pay.

In many cases, because of Hospice of North Idaho's services, the seriously ill are able to die at home, surrounded by their loved ones.

The Hospice House facility will provide a similar experience for those whose care cannot be managed at home or in a long-term facility.

"It's really the second best option to dying at home," Miller said.

Hospice House will also be useful to some patients whose pain or other symptoms become unmanageable for their caregivers. Those patients can often be medically stabilized so they can return home, where most hospice care takes place.

The facility will also be able to provide a few days of respite care for seriously ill patients whose caregivers have become tired and overwhelmed.

"They can just relax and be the spouse or the child again for a few days," Miller said.

The 14,000-square-foot facility has 12 patient rooms including two family suites.

Each patient room has a microwave, small refrigerator and a private patio with enough room to move a bed outside, if a patient desires.

"There are a lot of places for family to gather," said Amanda Miller.

There is a family dining room, a family kitchen, a youth activity room, a prayer/meditation room and garden areas right outside the building's many windows.

Hospice House will be staffed around the clock with end-of-life care experts and supportive volunteers.

The opening of Hospice House was made possible through donations and pledges received for the project and a tax-free bond.

Miller said many subcontractors donated upgrades.

"We really feel like we got a $5 million facility for $3 million," she said.

Although construction is complete, fundraising will continue until Hospice of North Idaho pays back the bond.

Miller said the organization serves more than 50 percent of all people who die in Kootenai County, while the national average is 40 percent.

"I think that says a lot about how this community has embraced this concept," Miller said.

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