After nearly six years in the making, Mercy Hospice House will open its door to its first guest on Tuesday.
“This is going to be a great alternative for patients,” said Tina Gallegos, director of Mercy Hospice House.
Mercy Regional Medical Center held an open house Saturday, letting the first people walk through the brand new, 11,000-square-foot facility in Three Springs on the hospital campus.
For the past six years, the Mercy Health Foundation has raised $5.6 million for the hospice residence, the only facility of its kind in the Four Corners, Gallegos said. The facility was “100 percent” funded by contributions from members of the community,” Gallegos said.
“The community really stepped up,” she said.
Mercy Hospice House has eight patient bedrooms, all of which feature a private, outdoor patio. Throughout the building, there are common living rooms, a coffee station, a kitchen, washer and dryer, as well as a meditation room for patients and their families.
Planners gave special attention to the outside atmosphere as well, building a memorial garden, waterfall feature and landscaping, said David Bruzzese, a spokesman for Mercy.
“We wanted to create a home-like environment,” Bruzzese said.
Within each patient room is a pull-out couch, which allows family members to spend the night with their loved one, as well as a television, private bathroom and plenty of room for storage.
“Most people want to be at their bedside,” Bruzzese said.
In Durango, options for end-of-life care include nursing homes, in-home hospice and, in extreme cases, a bed in a hospital room.
But Mercy Hospice House is the first of its kind in the area to offer 24-hour hospice services with trained and licensed staff.
And the need in the community, Mercy representatives say, is backed by the numbers.
By 2040, the number of households with people 65 or older in La Plata County is expected to more than double, from 5,500 to 11,000, according to the state demographers office. And that increase creates a higher demand on services for seniors.
“The numbers are just astonishing,” Karen Midkiff, chief development officer, said in a previous interview. “So we feel we’re being visionary doing this now, rather than waiting till later.”
Mercy Regional Medical Center, whose parent company is Centura Health, has long been one of the largest employers in the area, with a staff of more than 1,300 people. Gallegos said nine full-time staff members were hired and 24 people are on staff as needed.
The rate for one night of routine care at the hospice is $299, Gallegos said, though Mercy does have some financial services for patients. The national average stay in a hospice residence is seven to 10 days, she said.
With the opening of Mercy Hospice House, health officials say another gap is filled in the health continuum in La Plata County, as well as surrounding areas.