Wake Hospice raising funds for new facility

Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — While many Americans still are not comfortable dealing with death, demand for end-of-life Hospice care is rising.

Hospice of Wake County, for example, admits 1,800 to 2,000 patients a year, double the total four years ago.

Now, with demand for services continuing to grow as people live longer, and as patients, caregivers and physicians become more knowledgeable about end-of-life care, Hospice of Wake County is preparing to build the first residential Hospice facility that will serve Wake and six bordering counties.

Hospice has raised $10.1 million in the three-year-old quiet phase of a $13 million capital campaign to pay for the facility, and plans this month to begin building a three-building complex on 8.7 acres in Cary it is leasing from the state of North Carolina for $1 over 25 years.

With Ramsey GMK serving as architect and Clancy & Theys Construction Co. serving as general contractor, the main facility will house 20 individual suites, along with a kitchen, dining room, laundry and common room for use by patients’ families.

That facility will be part of a complex that also will include a two-story administrative and community-services building that will house offices for the Hospice staff, a family grief center that will provide bereavement programs, and meeting rooms.

A third building will serve as a spiritual sanctuary, and the grounds of the complex will include gardens for meditation and reflection.

Formed in 1979, Hospice operates with an annual budget of$14 million and a staff of 150 people, 70 of them working full-time, as well as 200 volunteers.

Hospice provides medical, emotional and spiritual services for people with life-threatening conditions and a life expectancy of six months or less.

Hospice covers 70 percent to 75 percent of its costs through Medicare reimbursements, another 15 percent to 20 percent through private insurance and Medicaid reimbursements, and the remaining 10 percent through private contributions, says Mike Blanchard, vice president for development and director of the Hospice of Wake County Foundation.

The foundation raises about $1.5 million a year, with $800,000 of that used to provide services for patients who otherwise could not afford them.

Hospice received a certificate of need from the state to build its new facility, which will serve patients in Wake, Chatham, Durham, Franklin,
Granville, Harnett and Johnston counties.

Grants and gifts to the campaign include $2 million from the Wake County Board of Commissioners; $1 million from the John William Pope Foundation, which matched another $1 million from other donors; and $500,000 from the children of Dorothy Kerr, a long-time member of the board of directors of Hospice and the board of trustees of the Hospice foundation.

The campaign, which is chaired by Dr. Billy Dunlap, a Raleigh oncologist and a founder of Hospice of Wake County, and by Smedes York, chairman of York Companies, also has received support from 10 of Wake’s 12 municipalities.

Thad Woodard, president and CEO of the North Carolina Bankers Association, chairs the government division for the campaign, which is being advised by Winston-Salem
consulting firm Capital Development Services.

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