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Lodging in works for patients, caregivers

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Kathy Carr

Kathy Carr

Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — To be with their son Branner when he was referred to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute for treatment of melanoma, Beth and Charles “Sandy” Baldwin of Winston-Salem spent four months at a local “family house” in Pittsburgh the cancer institute had recommended that provides lodging for families of adult patients.

After Branner Baldwin died in 2000 at age 26, his parents began looking into the availability of similar lodging in Winston-Salem for family members of adult patients at the city’s two major medical centers, Forsyth Medical Center and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

The couple was disappointed to learn the city lacked a facility like the one in Pittsburgh to serve families of the roughly 400 out-of-town patients who spend a typical night at the two local medical centers, says Sandy Baldwin, a retired manager at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

So the Baldwins spearheaded an effort to create a local family house, which also will serve families of patients at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home.

The effort has raised nearly $4.6 million in a campaign to raise $6 million, including $250,000 each from the two hospitals for an endowment for the new SECU Family House, with a groundbreaking set for Oct. 12.

Named for the State Employees Credit Union Foundation, which made a $2 million challenge grant, the facility will have 45 guest rooms and provide lodging and support for over 2,000 families a year.

Kathy Carr, executive director of SECU Family House, says it expects to operate with a staff of four employees, plus eight to 10 volunteers a day, on an operating budget of $400,000 a year.

In addition to investment income from its endowment and revenue from a guest-room fee of $35 a night, based on a sliding scale, the group likely will need to raise $75,000 a year to help support operations, Carr says.

The facility also will serve as a training ground for medical and nursing students at Winston-Salem State University, Forsyth Technical Community College, Wake Forest University and other schools.

Co-chaired by the Baldwins, the board of SECU Family House has been spearheading the capital campaign for the new facility.

Community volunteers Linda and Meb Turner co-chair the community fundraising portion of the campaign, which received a $1 million lead gift from The Richard J. Reynolds III and Marie M. Reynolds Foundation.

And the SECU Foundation, which will give half its challenge grant 30 days after construction begins, will give the other half to complete the campaign once it has raised $5 million.

The architect for the facility, to be built on Hospice Lane off Burke Mill Road on 8.8 acres the group purchased in October 2009 for $590,000, is Carlos Espinosa of Thomas Hughes Architects in Winston-Salem.

Landmark Builders in Winston-Salem is the general contractor and Robin Team of Carolina Investment Properties is the project manager.

The new SECU Family house “has the potential to put a much better finish on Winston-Salem and the caring community that we are,” says Sandy Baldwin.

Beth Baldwin says part of the vision of both medical centers is “to provide compassionate care and family-centered care.”

Hospital hospitality houses, she says, “are the epitome of including the family in the overall care of the patient.”

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