Embracing Life's Journey: Building a Hospice House for St. Louis

Today, there is a growing need for the warm, supportive care of hospice.

"Hospice care recognizes, celebrates and respects the unique life journey of each patient," says Barbara Westland, director of BJC Hospice and the Wings program. "Hospice helps families make every moment count by focusing on the spiritual and emotional care of patients, as well as physical comfort."

For more than 30 years, BJC Hospice has been offering exceptional, compassionate care to patients and families throughout the St. Louis area. Currently, the BJC Hospice care team provides comprehensive hospice care in patients’ homes, long-term care or assisted living facilities, or in the hospital.

But Barbara, along with many other caregivers and families, believe a vital component of hospice care is still missing in the St. Louis area: a hospice house.

Filling a Vital Need for Families

"Today, the St. Louis area only has 34 hospice house beds—one in Illinois and one in Missouri," Barbara says. "Yet the need is increasing for all patients—adults and children. Right now, St. Louis doesn't have a hospice house that can address the special needs of pediatric patients."

BJC HealthCare and BJC Hospice are working to change that with the creation of a hospice house, slated to open in late 2016 pending fundraising goals and BJC board approval.

Yet the community’s support is needed to make the hospice house a reality.

"The hospice house will offer a warm, comfortable environment where patients who are completing life can receive compassionate, specialized care," Barbara says. "Our hospice house also will embrace families to promote a sense of hope and a celebration of life."

A hospice house offers patients and families an alternative choice: 

  • When short-term care is needed to manage pain and symptoms 
  • When care in the family home isn’t feasible 
  • When caregivers need a brief respite

"Families who have benefited from hospice houses in other cities have told us how grateful they were for the care and support they received and truly understand the invaluable role of a hospice house," Barbara says. "These families are passionate and are the biggest advocates for a hospice house."

Situated on the campus of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, the planned 18,000-square-foot, ranch-style hospice house will include numerous patient- and family-friendly amenities and comforts, including: 

  • 16 private suites for adults, teens and children 
  • Natural surroundings with a walking path, gazebo and playground area 
  • Hospice-specialized care team 
  • Leading-edge technology
  • Gathering room with fireplace 
  • Family kitchen and dining areas 
  • Chapel/Meditation room

"The generosity and commitment to exceptional end-of-life care allows our community to embrace the patients and families who are experiencing this final journey. Our community will be better for having a hospice house," Barbara says.

Make a Hospice House a Reality

To help make a hospice house a reality for more families in the St. Louis area, please give by calling 314.286.0600.

To learn more about giving opportunities to hospice house, please call Mary C. Hendricks, CFRE, at 314.362.3499, or email Mary.Hendricks@bjc.org

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