A Home For A Hospice

January 30, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

A vacant health center in Linthicum will be converted into the county's first inpatient-residence hospice by fall.

The hospice will be at 817 Camp Meade Road, site of the former Friendship Area Health Center, which closed in August.

The Friendship Area Health Association gave the building and 2.1 acres to the Hospice of the Chesapeake, a nonprofit agency based in Millersville, to avoid having a vacant building in the community, said Elaine Ward, a member of the association's executive committee.

The hospice "will be something where the patient and family are treated as if they were home, and there will be provisions made for family to spend the night," said Erwin E. Abrams, president of the hospice.

The interior of the 2,500-square-foot, one-story building will be gutted and redone. Its white exterior will have a pitched roof, wide windows and a portico in front.

Annapolis developer Robert DeStefano, a hospice foundation board member, will oversee the project, expected to cost about $300,000. When completed it will have six bedrooms, each with a private bathroom. The home will have a full kitchen, sitting room, dining room and a large deck overlooking a garden.

The residence will be staffed by nurses and certified nursing assistants. A nondenominational clergyman will be available for patients and family members.

Mr. DeStefano expects work on the building to begin in March.

The hospice is hoping developers and construction companies will donate their services.

The Friendship Area Health Center was built in the early 1970s by a group of North County residents, said County Council George Bachman, who represents the area and was on the center's board of governors for 12 years.

The county gave the association a $10,000 grant to help build the center, with one condition: The association would repay the county in full if the property was ever sold to a nonpublic service organization.

Now that obligation belongs to the hospice. On Thursday County Executive John G. Gary approved transfer of the land from the association to the hospice.

The need for inpatient hospice care has increased in recent years, said Allison L. Alexander, director of community relations and development for the hospice.

Hospice of the Chesapeake served 515 patients last year, up from 379 in 1993.

People are eligible for hospice care when they are in the final stages of terminal diseases such as cancer, heart disease, neurological disorders, pulmonary disease, Alzheimer's or Lou Gehrig's disease and AIDS.

Without hospices, many people would have to be placed in hospitals or other institutions, said Mr. Abrams.

The hospice accepts people, regardless of ability to pay. Last year, $100,000 of the hospice's $2.2 million budget went to provide care for those who could not pay, said Ms. Alexander.

Plans for the hospice were announced in December. The county executive's office assigned Jerome W. Klasmeier, director of central services, to help the organization find a location.

The Camp Meade and Andover roads location fits the bill because it is near major highways and already has utility hookups, said Mr. Abrams.

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