May 30, 2013 in Business, Health

Hospice of Spokane expanding to North Side

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Willa Johns, center, laughs as she and others prepare to break ground for the new Hospice of Spokane Hospice House on Wednesday in north Spokane. Johns is a former Hospice of Spokane executive director and is currently a hospice patient.
(Full-size photo)

Hospice of Spokane broke ground on its second Hospice House on Wednesday.

The 13,000-square-foot home is being built on a 2.5-acre lot at the corner of Atlantic Street and Rhoades Avenue. The site is a block off North Division Street, surrounded by apartment complexes, a Comfort Inn and several restaurants, including the Golden Corral.

It is scheduled to be finished in spring 2014.

“We know this Hospice House will bring healing and peace for people long into our future,” said Gina Drummond, CEO of Hospice of Spokane.

The new home will have 12 private bedrooms, space for visiting family members, a dining room, great room and a children’s play area. It will be surrounded by “healing gardens.”

Hospice of Spokane opened its first Hospice House, on Spokane’s South Side, in November 2007; 445 men and women stayed there in 2012, for an average of eight days. The home often has a waiting list.

Hospice care, a new concept 35 years ago when Spokane’s program became only the 12th in the country, has proliferated nationwide; there are more than 5,300 programs in all 50 states now. Hospice care is expected to grow even more as aging baby boomers reach the end of their lives.

The goal of hospice is to help people die in comfortable surroundings, usually in their homes.

Clients come to hospice houses if they are without family members or friends who can help with care giving, or if their care has become overwhelming at home. Some younger clients choose hospice houses because they don’t want their children to see them die in their homes, Drummond said.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reported in 2012 that 66 percent of hospice patients died at home and 26 percent died in hospice houses.

Willa Johns, executive director of Hospice of Spokane in the early 1980s, talked at the groundbreaking ceremony, and she dug up some ceremonial ground with a shovel, an oxygen tank at her side, helping her breathe. She is in hospice care now herself – at home.

Johns, 77, looked to the empty lot where a second Hospice House will soon arise. She said: “It will be a place of comfort and hope. It sounds funny, but even at the end of your life, there’s hope for the future.”

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