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published July 2011

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Herald Journal Publishing
PO Box 129
Winsted, MN 55395
(320) 485-2535

Wright County’s first residential hospice house coming soon

By Jennifer Kotila, Staff Writer

“Hospice care is a gift; a gift of time to say, ‘I love you,’ time to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ time to say, ‘thank you,’ and time to say, ‘goodbye,’” said Laura Jones, executive director of Community Health Foundation (CHF) of Wright County.

About three years ago, after merging with Elim Care, which is headquartered in Eden Prairie and operates many senior services in Buffalo, CHF’s “Because We Care” campaign began raising funds to build the first residential hospice house in Wright County, with a goal of raising $1 million.

Located in the heart of Buffalo, across the street from Sturges Park and Buffalo Lake, the goal of the hospice house is to provide patients with the best end-of-life care, and family members the opportunity to spend time with their loved one in the community they call home.

Currently, CHF has raised $400,000 from county-wide businesses and private donations, and is in the process of finding a general contractor for the building.

Construction can begin once $600,000 is raised, Jones said. The remaining $400,000, to be raised after construction starts, is to help with the operating budget of the house for the first two years.

The goal is to have the residential hospice house operating by January 2012.

What is hospice?

Hospice is a philosophy of care that focuses on patient comfort and quality of life – rather than a cure – for individuals of all ages facing life-limiting or terminal illnesses.

Neither hastening nor postponing death, hospice affirms life, and regards dying as a normal process.

“In hospice, it’s not just the person who is ill, but the whole family that receives care,” Jones said.

Hospice care provides families with respite, bereavement counseling, and spiritual care throughout the time their loved one is receiving hospice services, and during the months following the loved one’s death.

Hospice can be provided in the ill person’s home, in the hospital, in a nursing home in what is known as “end-of-life” rooms, or in residential hospice houses.

Why a residential hospice house in Wright County?

In Minnesota, there are only 15 residential hospice houses, and none in Wright County. The closest hospice houses for residents of Wright County are in Luxemburg in Stearns County, or Chaska in Carver County.

There are many people who say they want to die in their home, but sometimes that is not possible because of the health care they need at the end of life, or the inability of loved ones to provide the 24-hour care needed.

Nursing home “end of life” rooms, or hospital rooms are not always the appropriate setting for those facing a terminal illness.

There often is not a lot of space for the family to gather, it can be far from home, and it does not provide a home-like atmosphere for the patient or the family.

When a loved one wants to receive hospice care in the home, families must consider the impact on the rest of the family of having a loved one dying in the home, Jones said.

Once the family has seen their loved one pass away in the home, sometimes it’s more difficult for the good times in the home to be remembered.

The residential hospice house in Wright County will provide a homelike setting for families with a loved one facing a terminal illness, with five residential suites and two hotel rooms.

There will be large gathering areas, children’s play areas, patios overlooking scenic Buffalo Lake, and a peaceful prayer chapel.

“We show families how to have a conversation with their loved one, rather than just breathe with them,” Jones said, referring to the care the family of the terminally ill person also receives while their loved one is at the residential hospice house.

How to help

Those interested in donating money, or volunteering their time for the residential hospice house, should contact Jones at (763) 684-1477 or

Some of the upcoming events to raise money for the hospice house are a family fun 5k run/walk scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 25 at Sturges Park in Buffalo, and the fall gala dinner and silent auction scheduled for Friday, Nov. 18 at the Monticello Community Center.

There are many businesses that have offered in-kind services to build the hospice house, as well as donations of building materials.

More than 150 volunteers will be needed to efficiently operate the hospice house after it’s built.

More about CHF and Elim Care

Community Health Foundation (CHF) of Wright County began 28 years ago with a mission of improving the health and quality of life for the citizens of the county.

Some of its projects have included cancer education and screenings, providing automated external defibrillators and training, and providing personal radio transmitter bracelets for those suffering Alzheimer’s, dementia, or developmental disorders.

About three years ago, CHF merged with Elim Care to reduce operational costs and expand services.

Elim Care has been providing senior housing and health care services throughout the Midwest for more than 80 years.

Some of the services it provides in Wright County are Buffalo Adult Day Center, Guardian Angels and Elim Home Care and Hospice, Lake Ridge Care Center and Manor, Park Terrace Assisted Living, and Park View Care Center and Rehabilitation.

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