Like many healthcare institutions today, Indiana University (IU) Health Bloomington has long desired a dedicated location outside of its main hospital to care for terminal patients and their families.
Today, these services are being provided in such a facility. Through hard work and dedication of the project team and funds raised entirely by the hospital’s foundation, a new, freestanding, 12-bed inpatient hospice house has been created, providing excellent care in an environment designed specifically for this purpose.
Typically provided to patients at home or in an acute care setting, hospice, palliative, and respite care can now be administered in this new homelike setting nestled into the rolling hills of southern Indiana.
There was an overall consensus that the facility should be a beautiful and peaceful place compatible with the spiritual needs of the local community. The hospital chaplain emphasized that the building should have “no hospital feel” and “be a comforting place for guests to spend their last days on Earth.”
Since the mid 1970s, when hospice care gained acceptance in America as the most innovative, comprehensive, and humane care available to people with limited life expectancies, demand for hospice care has increased every year. To meet this demand, the number of freestanding hospice care facilities has grown steadily over the last few years.
One of the most important developments in expanding access to quality end-of-life care was the passage of the Medicare Hospice Benefit in 1982. By 1995, hospice had become a $2.8 billion industry with approximately $1.9 billion of that amount coming from Medicare alone. Medicare and Medicaid, along with private insurance, will help pay for services provided at the IU Health Bloomington facility.
“The hospital anticipates the hospice to be operating at productive capacity for the initial eight patient rooms by the end of 2012. Only after this is achieved and it is deemed necessary to add bed capacity will the hospital build out the remaining four patient bedrooms, which were shelled in as part of the original construction,” says Ruth Ann Morris, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at IU Health Bloomington.
The hospital’s recently retired director of hospice care, Ellen Surburg, worked in the hospice and palliative care fields for 21 years. Prior to this, she worked face-to-face with patients and their families, and found several consistent feelings among them. They were very satisfied with the experience and care they received in the hospital, yet they desired to receive such care in a more homelike environment.
Family members’ satisfaction of the overall experience was based on the caregivers being present and involved throughout the remaining days of their loved ones’ lives. This new facility is a culmination of her dream.
The medical staff at IU Health Bloomington, the Bloomington Hospital Foundation, community representatives, and the design team brought their collective resources and skills together to create the end result.
“The team worked through many challenges to deliver a creative solution for this site,” says Bill Cooler, principal architect and president of Cooler Design, Inc., based in Indianapolis. “We all knew this facility was going to fill an important void in the local community and that it was critical for us to work with the Bloomington Hospital Foundation in the development of gift-giving opportunities.”
Ultimately, the project was entirely funded with community donations in fewer than 18 months. “We would not be here today without the generosity of those who stepped forward,” says Debbie Lemon, chairwoman of the Bloomington Hospital Foundation. “We are so blessed to have so much given to us.”