Mercy begins push for hospice home

Officials aim to have facility ready in 2014

Mercy Regional Medical Center officials announced Thursday a $4.3 million campaign to build a hospice residence.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Michelle Appenzeller, director of Hospice of Mercy, said in welcoming guests at a kickoff ceremony. “We’ve been talking about this for 18 to 19 years.”

Questions abounded, Appenzeller said. Would the community support it? Would funding be available? Did supporters have the capacity to pull it off?

“Six months ago, we decided that we could do it,” Appenzeller said. “It’s the right place, the right time and the right care.”

Hospice of Mercy and Mercy Health Foundation will build the 11,000-square-foot, 12-bed hospice house on the Mercy campus in Grandview.

Private suites, with decks overlooking gardens, will allow family members to sleep over.

Amenities will include a community kitchen, rooms for private gatherings and a nondenominal chapel. Clinical necessities for patient comfort and family support also are incorporated in the design.

The medical center’s board of directors donated 1 1/3 acres, valued at $694,000, for the hospice house. The cost of construction is estimated at $3.17 million, with $449,000 for fixtures and furnishings, $150,000 for art and aesthetics and $200,000 for unforeseen expenses.

Total cost is $5 million, with $4.3 million to be raised through public contributions. Fundraising and construction will take two years. The hospice is expected to open in 2014.

The closest hospice for Southwest Colorado residents is in Grand Junction, about 170 miles from Durango.

Dr. Steven Bush, a radiation oncologist at the Durango Cancer Center, will lead the fundraising. Co-leaders are Dick and Jane Pearson. He is a retired manager of south City Market; she, a retired schoolteacher.

Bush spoke of the role of hospice in patient care.

Hospitals, with high-tech equipment and high-quality services provide care designed to cure what is wrong and get patients back to their regular life, Bush said.

But patients with incurable, end-of-life ailments can be better served with home care or hospice care, Bush said.

“Patients in late stages of a disease want to be home,” Bush said. “The hospice is part of the spectrum of end-stage care. It is an indispensable home away.”

The Pearsons spoke of the care their parents received in hospices. They said leading the fundraising is an honor and a way to repay one good turn with another.

Earl Caudill, a chaplain with Hospice of Mercy, blessed the effort.

Erin Denholm from Centura Health Systems, of which Mercy Regional is a member, brought good wishes from the parent organization.

Hospice of Mercy and Mercy Home Health were taken into the Centura system seven years ago. Mercy Regional Medical Center joined early this year.

Among data supplied by Hospice of Mercy:

By 2014, 15 percent of residents in the Mercy service area (La Plata, Archuleta, San Juan, Dolores, Montezuma and San Miguel counties) will be 65 years old or older.

Eighty-five percent of Hospice of Mercy patients this year were at least 65 years old.

Many families in the service area can’t provide hospice care at home.

Arizona has 8.4 hospice beds per 1,000 deaths. Colorado has 4.1 beds per 1,000 deaths.

The top five diagnoses for hospice patients are cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular accidents, kidney disease and Alzheimer’s or dementia.

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