Autumn’s gold, orange and crimson foliage clings to trees. Soon snow will blanket the landscape as winter arrives in Indiana.
Inside the new Craftsman-style facility in Bloomington, a fireplace casts a warming glow, a water sculpture soothes with its soft song, and a huge stained glass window catches the afternoon sun’s rays for a colorful mosaic.
For everything there is a season and for the residents of this special place, life on earth is ending.
“It is a beautiful peaceful place, filled with lots of light and lovely views of nature,” said Mary Jensen, chaplain for Indiana University Health Hospice in Bloomington. “It doesn’t have a hospital feel at all. It is a comforting place for guests to spend their last days of life on earth.”
Recently dedicated, the $3 million IU Health Hospice House is a “dream come true” for the community and the many people who have worked to make it happen, said Winston Shindell, who headed the capital campaign that raised more $3,043,323 to build the single-level, 11,000-square-foot facility.
The house, Shindell said, will provide a comfortable and caring environment to help patients and caregivers treasure each moment during “life’s final journey.”
The dream started nearly five years ago when Ellen Surburg, a registered nurse and director of IU Health Hospice in Bloomington, shared her vision of a local hospice house with IU Health Bloomington Hospital and the Bloomington Hospital Foundation.
Despite a tough economy, the massive project to be financed entirely with donations was undertaken. “We would not be here today without the generosity of those who stepped forward,” said Debbie Lemon, chairman of the Bloomington Hospital Foundation, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility. “We are so blessed to have so much given to us.”
Not only did the project more than meet its financial goal, it accomplished the feat in 18 months and was the largest fundraising effort ever tackled by the foundation, Shindell added. “But you know we really shouldn’t be surprised that we accomplished that,” he said, pointing out that the community responded with donations large and small – from $25 to $250,000 and every amount in between.
Part of the success of the campaign was because people stepped forward to share their stories about the impact of hospice care in their personal lives. Shindell himself told his own tale of his late wife’s journey.
“Because of my wonderful experience with hospice, I wanted to do whatever I could to support he campaign,” he said.
IU Health Hospice in Bloomington has been providing compassion and care since 1979, caring for more than 8,000 patients with life-limiting illness. IU Health Hospice started in Bloomington as a community endeavor encouraged by the Local Council of Women and staffed by nine volunteers, under the medical leadership of Dr. Anthony Pizzo along with the support of other local physicians. It is now a fully accredited program with a staff of 45 and more than 100 volunteers.
Currently serving Monroe, Brown, Lawrence, Greene, Owen and Morgan counties, IU Health Hospice in Bloomington provides comfort care for patients in their home, the hospital or a nursing facility. And now in the beautiful IU Health Hospice House.
Most people who stay at the house will be in the final two weeks of their lives. Care will be designed to make them comfortable, rather than to cure terminal illnesses. Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance will help pay the cost of staying at the house. An estimated 400 patients and their families will be accommodated at the house per year, with the first patients expected to be welcomed in early December.
“Ellen,” Shindell said at the dedication ceremony,” I cannot think of a better legacy for you to leave behind.”
DESIGNING THE HOUSE
Architect William Cooler of Cooler Design, Inc., in Indianapolis, worked with Tom Mullinax of Hospice Design Resources and local contractor Fox Construction Company to create a building certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Other local companies who help create the house are Mech Tech mechanical and plumbing, Price Electric, Bounds & McPike Flooring, Holtsclaw Painting, Custom Drywall, Castle Interiors, Steve’s Roofing, Jerry Burton Masonry, O’Mara Paving and Kevin Huntley Excavation.
Nestled in a 3.3-acre tract of land on the corner of Deborah and Cota Drives (just off Tapp Road near Ind. 37), the IU Health Hospice House was constructed of limestone quarried nearby.
Landscaped with trees, bushes, plants, walking paths, a bird sanctuary and a rain garden, the IU Health Hospice House exudes a warmth and beauty even before entering. Becky Feigh was the landscape designer. Thrasher Landscape provided and installed all the plants and landscape materials. A front porch, expansive decks and a brick patio provide outdoor seating to enjoy the natural setting. The grounds of the IU Health Hospice House have been designated a National Wildlife Federation Certified Habitat.
A massive mahogany front door with slate tile entryway welcomes entrants to the house. To the right is the study room with pale green walls, tall windows and comfortable wicker furniture plumped with cushions and pillows. A carpet with a green vine-like pattern adds an outdoor touch. Designed by Bella Bella, a side table and a large mirror also carry the greenery design. Books, puzzles and a computer are for the use of patients and their families. The entire facility is equipped with free Wi-Fi.
“This is where people can come to be quiet and relax,” said hospice volunteer Dee Juric. “Every room is special but my favorite part of this room is the big windows. You have such a wonderful view outside.”
Next is a great room where a limestone fireplace provides a warm focal point.
A flat-screen TV is mounted on the wall, overstuffed chairs and a sofa are clustered around a round coffee table as a place for folks to sit and chat. A nearby kitchen with a long dining table allows residents and families to store snacks, leftovers and other special foods. The facility’s commercial kitchen will prepare regular meals for patients.
An Alice-in-Wonderland-size door off the great room leads to a children’s playroom where a tiny table and bookshelves hold toys for youngsters. Several large glassed windows let adults see what is going on in the room and allow children to know their parents are nearby.
“If parents want to talk or the family needs some quiet time, the children can go in the room and play,” Hospice volunteer Cindy Duffy explained. “They tried to think of everything when they built this wonderful facility.”
To the left of the facility entrance is the meditation room with a vibrant stained glass window designed by Charlotte Paul of C. Paul Stained Glass. Water trickles gently down a huge bluish green slate in a lighted water sculpture on the wall.
“There is no TV in here because this is designed to be a quiet room,” said chaplain Jensen. “This room would be good for a baptism or a couple renewing their wedding vows or something like that.”
The spa room offers a state-of-the-art whirlpool tub and a trolley that can move a patient from bed to tub and back. Recessed overhead warming lights with dimmer switches and a blanket warming machine make sure that the spa-user doesn’t get cold when using the tub.
“Water is well known to be beneficial to relieve pain and stress,” said massage therapist Elena Clouse. “We can also put up a portable massage table in here for the patient. Massage can decrease anxiety and have a healthful effect.”
Also part of the IU Health Hospice House are eight resident rooms, a nurses station, medication room, volunteer room and laundry room where families can do personal laundry.
“Each room is different but they all have the same designs to make them feel more like home instead of a hospital,” said hospice nurse Charlene Denney. Opening built-in cabinets on each side of the bed, Denney demonstrated how unsightly oxygen canisters won’t be necessary in the room. Instead, an oxygen connection is hidden inside the custom-designed cabinet.
“It can be scary seeing an oxygen canister by your bed,” she said. An electrically powered sling system that circles around the bed into the 9-by-9-foot bathroom can transfer patients from the bed to the bathroom and shower or to sit in a bedside chair. Each room also has a flat-screen TV and a refrigerator.
A sleeper sofa lets family members comfortably spend the night. “Family members can stay in the patient’s room 24 hours a days seven days a week,” added nurse Cindi Taylor. “That was a very important part of the project.”
As a caregiver for his mother before her death, Bob Lorimer said he knows the value of having the IU Health Hospice House. “My wife Sue is a retired nurse so we were able to take care of my mother at home but not everyone can do that,” he said. “Hospice House is a marvelous facility for our community. It is going to make such a difference in the lives of so many people.”