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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane home for medically fragile children in jeopardy due to limited donations

A group is hoping to raise enough funds to buy this home on Cook Street in the South Hill to help care for medically fragile kids. (Liz-Anne Kishimoto / The Spokesman-Review)
A group is hoping to raise enough funds to buy this home on Cook Street in the South Hill to help care for medically fragile kids. (Liz-Anne Kishimoto / The Spokesman-Review)

It’s been nearly a year since the only group home for medically fragile children in Spokane closed, and one nonprofit trying to purchase and open a home here is now worried that they may not have the funds to do so.

Ashley House, a nonprofit based in Federal Way that offers group home care for medically fragile children at various houses in Western Washington, is in the process of purchasing a home on the South Hill that could serve about six to eight children with intensive medical needs or who require medical care and supervision 24 hours a day.

Plans to expand to Eastern Washington were going well until COVID-19 hit, and fundraisers and plans to raise money locally here in Spokane stalled.

The nonprofit’s April fundraiser was canceled. Now leaders are concerned about the project getting off the ground altogether.

Ashley House has applied for several local grants to help fund the home, but the nonprofit is asking for local donations to help secure the South Hill group home.

“We’re a private nonprofit. We’re not broke, but we don’t have a lot of reserves,” said Mike Pugsley, director of business development at Ashley House. “So this house was the most reasonably priced and the floor plan is the best compared to houses that are much newer.”

Ashley House is hoping to secure at least $150,000 but ideally closer to $400,000 by the end of May in order to close on the house and get approval from their board to serve medically fragile children in Spokane. Once they secure the house, the nonprofit will have to outfit it with the appropriate equipment and safeguards to keep children safe before they can be licensed by the state.

The home could be used for children who need to live there full time or for children whose families need a respite from their daily schedules.

Medically fragile children are entitled to certain care through federal coverage, but the toll on families of taking care of a medically fragile child can be too much, especially in single-parent households.

Sam and Colleen Grove know the drill well. Their son Isaac, who has a rare chromosome disorder, requires 24-hour care, and they are currently receiving 16 hours per day of in-home nursing for him. That means the Groves have to schedule hours in a way that they are both available to take care of their son, usually on the weekends.

A home like the one Ashley House is trying to establish on the South Hill would be perfect for respite, especially when they want a weekend break from one or both of them attending to their son.

“Families would really love a place like this to open for respite care to go on family vacations or to get a break,” Colleen Grove said.

The closest group home for medically fragile kids is in the Tri-Cities, meaning families who wanted that type of care would have to be a two-hour drive away from their child if they chose to use those services. Beyond respite care, the home could also be used to help families with new medically fragile children to learn how to take care of unique medical needs before bringing that child home.

Without a local group home to take care of Isaac, the Groveses are left with few options if one of them falls ill and can’t stay out of the house.

In their current scenario, Colleen said that their son Isaac, who is very susceptible to contracting any type of virus or illness, would be at risk if someone in their household even got the flu. With no group home, she would likely have to send him to the hospital to ensure he didn’t get ill.

“The goal of home care is so these kids don’t live in the hospital,” Colleen said.

Ashley House is hoping to raise enough funds to keep their plans in Spokane moving forward in the coming months.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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