Hospice wants to build in-patient facility
By BY SONNY LONG - SLONG@VICAD.COM
March 1, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Updated Feb. 28, 2013 at 9:01 p.m.
Hospice of South Texas wants to build an in-patient facility in Victoria.
A five-year capital campaign to fund the $4.5 million to $6 million project is underway.
The organization, the only nonprofit hospice in the Crossroads, already owns 30 acres on Mallette Drive where the facility will be constructed.
"It will be a center of compassion where every moment matters," said Chris Marshall, campaign director. "When each of us comes into the world we're surrounded by love, comfort and care. We at Hospice of South Texas believe everyone deserves the same when we leave."
The initial plans call for a 12-bed, private room, 20,000-square-feet facility designed to be expanded to 36 rooms.
Future plans include a bereavement center and memorial gardens. The proposed initial funding also includes a $500,000 endowment for both capital and operational costs.
Marshall and Hospice of South Texas Executive Director Terry Robinson made a presentation on Feb. 11 Victoria County Commissioners Court requesting funding assistance, $50,000 annually for five years. No action was taken on the request until it can be determined if the county can help fund a nonprofit agency.
Plans are to appear before commissioners courts in the organization's 11-county service area including Calhoun, Jackson, Lavaca, DeWitt, Refugio, Goliad, Gonzales, Colorado, Fayette and Bee counties.
Marshall said he has visited with several officials from the counties where Hospice of South Texas offers services.
"I got the indication that it would absolutely be supported," he said.
The agency, first established in mid-1984 by the staff of DeTar Hospital, conducted two feasibility studies before undertaking the fundraising campaign - one to determine the need for such a facility and one to gauge public support.
"The need was established five years ago, looking at the number of patients in the area who don't have a setting they can go to that can deliver the level of care that can't be provided at home or a nursing home," said Robinson. "They end up staying in hospitals or going out of town for hospice inpatient services."
Robinson emphasized that the new facility will not be competition with hospitals or nursing homes.
"We need to take those patients who don't need to be in the hospital, who need to be in a setting dealing specifically with an end-of-life crisis," he said. "That's what this facility will do. It's not a long-term care facility.
"It's for crisis. The average length of stay will be five to seven days, not because they are going to die there, but because they are in crisis and can't be handled at home. We get you stabilized and get you back to the setting you want for the end of your life."
And Victoria is the logical location, said Robinson.
"One of the things to recognize is that Victoria being the medical hub for our area, everyone of these counties is impacted in some way, shape or form by the services we offer," he said.
"It goes with the need of overall health care, that continuum of health care. The great job we do in Victoria from a health care standpoint, an in-patient hospice is a component that now you literally have to go two hours away to provide.
"This facility can serve the community and gives us a complete package of all aspects of health care from birth to death," said Robinson.
As part of their research, members of the planning committee visited HomePlace, an in-patient hospice facility in Tyler operated by Hospice of East Texas.
HomePlace was built in 1999 and expanded in 2004.
Nancy Lamar, vice president of Community Relations for Hospice of East Texas, said community support was an essential element in the building of the facility.
"Private support from a very generous community created Hospice of East Texas 30 years ago and has been the backbone of our success through the years," she said.
"Capital campaigns in the late 1990s and early 2000s made it possible for Hospice of East Texas to buy the land and complete all of our facilities debt-free, which is an enormous boost to us as a nonprofit hospice.
"We like to say that our community created our beautiful facility and that it is a gift to the families of our community," Lamar said.
Hospice of South Texas will be seeking support from the community, too.
An official public campaign kickoff is planned for later this year, Robinson said.
"We are looking for a broad level of support," Robinson said. "It would be incredible if we could break ground this year, but we have to be at a certain pledge amount to do it."
Lamar is confident her counterparts in South Texas are on the right track.
"Raising money is always a challenge, but people respond to a vision, and Hospice of South Texas has a beautiful vision.
"An in-patient hospice facility will be a gift to the people of South Texas just as ours has been to the people of East Texas," she said.