WILMINGTON — Area residents in need of end-of-life care, along with their caregivers, will soon have a place close to home providing that service. Delaware Hospice cut the ribbon at its eight-bed unit inside St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington on May 3.
Officials from Delaware Hospice joined executives from Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic, the parent company of St. Francis, on the fifth floor for the ceremony. Trinity’s regional vice president for community health and well-being, Lillian Schonewolf, said this is the first major step toward instituting the hospital’s Healthy Village concept through which a wide range of services will be made available for patients and area residents.
“It is great to see what has happened here,” she said. “As much as this is wonderful for the patient that truly needs the dignity at end of life, I can only imagine how wonderful it’s going to be for the community.”
Charlotte “Cee Cee” Scott Coleman, the associate director of the unit for Delaware Hospice, said the organization has an inpatient location in Milford, and clients travel from New Castle County to stay there. Now, Delaware Hospice can provide the same care for up to eight people closer to their homes.
“We know that there’s definitely a need,” she said after the ceremony.
Patients will have to qualify for hospice services, and they can stay at the unit inside St. Francis for up to five days “to give family members a little bit of relief within the community,” Scott-Coleman said.
She said there are not a lot of long-term hospice residences available nearby, but many assisted-living facilities offer hospice either internally or through organizations like Delaware Hospice. The focus, she added, is quality of life.
“A lot of times, people think hospice is just focused on the death portion,” Scott-Coleman said. “And that’s not necessarily so. We want to make sure that they have a good quality of life, whether that’s three days, three hours or 30 days.”
Susan Lloyd, the president and chief executive officer of Delaware Hospice, noted that the unit would not have been possible without the work done by many people. She thanked the board of directors of Delaware Hospice, donors, the design and construction teams, fundraisers, and employees who will be there day-to-day.
“They have jumped into this whole adventure,” she said of the employees, who traveled to Milford for their training.
Christopher Cullom, the president of St. Francis Hospital, told the gathering that the need for hospice and palliative care has continued to grow in recent years.
“The opening of this hospice unit will allow us to better serve those patients and community members in need of such services,” he said.
St. Francis is committed to ensuring that all patients “receive compassionate comfort care provided with respect while their families and caregivers receive the rest that they need and deserve,” Cullom said.
The ceremony also included the reading of a reflection by Ed Lis, the mission leader for St. Francis Hospital, and Nicole Fullmer, director of community engagement for Delaware Hospice. Following that, Lloyd was handed a big pair of scissors, and several others received smaller pairs, to cut a ceremonial blue ribbon.
According to Lloyd, Delaware Hospice hopes to welcome its first patients to St. Francis by May 15.
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