First hospice of its kind in the region opens

Helping patients feel at home. The first in-patient hospice center in the region opened at Lourdes Medical Center Sunday.

The Ray and Kay Eckstein Hospice Care Center has 10 patient rooms with patios.

Doctor and Hospice Medical Director James Long said they wanted a hotel-like feel over a hospital. The medical equipment is hidden in the rooms and there’s an area for cooking and doing laundry. They even have a kids’ room

“Hospice, it’s not just about the patients it’s really about support for the families as well, and I think that’s one of the strengths here is that you have people who know how to council, how to support families, as well as care for a patient,” Long said.

Operational Director of Hospice, Palliative Care, Home Care, and Rescue Alert Kay Williams said simple things like having a pullout couch next to a patient’s bed can make the world of a difference.

“Just being able to have a comfortable place to try to get a good night’s sleep, but yet be close to their loved one, especially when they’re so ill and so sick, it’s huge,” Williams said.

Before hospice patients stayed in the hospital, now in a separate center patients have a staff dedicated to palliative care.

“Really, any patient that I’ve ever had in a hospital, probably would’ve been more comfortable in a situation like this, and the care would’ve been a little more focused,” Long said.

This $5 million project was built from the ground up through community donations.

“We have people who gave less than a dollar and we had people who gave more than a million dollars… The community really owns this hospice care center without the community support this would just not have been possible,” Williams said.

Ray and Kay Eckstein were among the first donors to support the campaign, donating $1.5 million to the project. $2-million of the $7.3-million in donations is part of an endowment fund that can help families without insurance or that are unable to pay for a stay.

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