With bright open windows, a wide veranda, spacious suites and a flower garden, Olathe Medical Center’s new inpatient hospice facility has all the touches and comforts families need during a difficult time.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Hospice House, located on the southeast corner of the campus, took place late Wednesday afternoon.
Donors, volunteers, employees and Olathe Medical Center executives gathered for the emotional event, which many saw as a milestone in the making.
After all, the new hospice house is the only freestanding inpatient hospice facility on the Kansas side of the metro area.
“Several of our existing patients live in rural areas, especially to the south, so this is a much-needed facility in this area,” said Sally Lundy, director of Hospice and Home Health at Olathe Medical Center. “It’s more convenient for those people and their families than a hospice house located in Kansas City.”
The hospice house, which was funded solely on donations, was an idea that formed when the hospital’s hospice program began 32 years ago, said Mike Jensen, vice president of marketing and external affairs for Olathe Medical Center.
In 2010, hospital executives and board members realized the demand for a hospice house was increasing, and a fundraising campaign was formed. The campaign was kick-started by a challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Maybee Foundation, which stated that if the medical center could raise $3 million by April 2012, the Maybee Foundation would provide a $500,000 grant to the campaign. Donations from businesses, organizations, community members, and hospital staff surpassed that total by the deadline.
The final number eventually rose to $4.3 million by this year.
“I have never been so proud to be part of anything before in my life,” Jensen said. “The generosity from the community warms my heart.”
His sentiment was echoed by most everyone involved in the fundraising process.
Lizanne McElhaney, director of the medical center’s charitable foundation, pointed out that most of the community donors recognized the fact that they might need the service one day, as a patient or for a loved one.
“When a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can be so overwhelming for the family as well,” she said. “A place like this keeps spirits up.”
The facility, which provides around-the-clock nursing care, will start accepting terminally ill patients the week of Oct. 6.
The facility accommodates eight patients, but there are plans to expand to 16 at an undetermined date.
The Hospice House is for short-term stays to manage end-of-life symptoms. An average stay is seven days or fewer.
The facility will continue to be operated with donations.
“This is a dream come true for people in the community,” said Lundy. “During a devastating time, it allows families to be families, rather than caregivers.”
From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, there will be a community open house at the Hospice House, featuring self-guided tours and refreshments. Hospice House is located at 15310 S. Marion St., near 153rd Place and Lone Elm Road.
To donate to Hospice House, visit www.olathehealth.org/donate or call 913-791-4216.