Hospice House to open in May
PRESCOTT - Dr. Sam Downing devotes his life to making the end of life comfortable and meaningful for his patients and will soon oversee a new inpatient hospice.
Downing - the medical director for the new Good Samaritan Society Marley House, where 10 cozy bedrooms will allow in-patient hospice care - also directs home hospice care and the Prescott Village campus for the Good Samaritan Society, a nonprofit that's served the Quad-City area since 1978.
Named for the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation that donated $500,000 toward the $2.5 million cost, the Hospice House plans to open in May once it receives its state license, said Paula Kneisl, Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society executive director in Prescott. Steering committee members Bob and Barbara Mariano of Prescott brought the Marleys on board, said Helen Fritz, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit. Others in the community contributed more than $1 million for the project, she said.
The sunny and cheerful building with a tiled foyer that includes a seating area next to a fireplace, offers a non-denominational chapel where families can pray or grieve. A conference room offers privacy, and throughout the building, small rooms, like a library, offer areas where people can have a quiet moment.
The homey treatment rooms include beds that staff can roll out onto patios so that patients can sit in the sun, if the weather permits. A friend or family member also can sleep next to the patient on a chair that opens into a bed.
The Hospice House includes every amenity, including a small playroom for children. Although the hospice will admit only adult patients at first, dying children also might find care there in the future, Fritz said.
Hospice care helps with symptom and pain management for patients who are near death, Kneisl said. Some families can't manage the patient at home along with a home hospice agency, she said. One study showed that only 19 percent of people die at home, others die in hospitals or in accidents. And some people don't want to die at home.
She expects patients to stay from one day to about 10 days. Medicare or private insurance usually covers the care.
"Palliative care is really for comfort rather than a curative model," said Kneisl. "People want to come. We've had calls already."
"The emotional component can be challenging," said Downing, who supervises and supports the hospice staff. Much of hospice care involves nursing, he said.
Commonly, physicians refer dying patients to hospice where the hospice doctor then assumes primary responsibility for their care.
"It's very rewarding," Downing said. "I feel I was called or led in my spiritual understanding of my life to pursue this work and I've gotten some very meaningful experiences. I help someone appreciate the quality of life rather than the quantity of life."
This will be the first in-patient hospice house for the Good Samaritan Society, which operates nursing homes, assisted living and home hospice services in 22 states and the first nonprofit in-patient hospice facility in Prescott.
Family Hospice Care, Inc., a for profit entity, also offers inpatient hospice care in Prescott. Both Hospice House and Family Hospice are Medicare certified facilities.