East Hawaii News

New In-Patient Hospice Center to Open Friday

June 18, 2012, 5:18 PM HST
* Updated June 19, 11:09 AM
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One thing is certain in everyone’s life, and that is that it will end.

This Friday, an organization that specializes in easing that transition will dedicate a new Hilo facility that will help the terminally ill with the greatest needs.

Hospice of Hilo’s new inpatient center is aimed at those who are either too ill to be cared for at their home, have no caretaker at home, or have no home at all.

The Pohai Malama a Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Care Center will host a grand opening beginning at 11 a.m. That will be followed by a light lunch and an open house from 1-6 p.m.

The 14,140-square-foot facility at 590 Kapiolani Street is the first of its kind on the island: a care home specifically built for hospice.

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It will have 12 patient bedrooms, a dining room, meditation room and spa. The center will also feature keiki and family rooms for visiting guests, and palliative care and training centers.

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Each bedroom has a bathroom, handicap-accessible shower, two beds (one for the patient and the other for a visiting guest), television, sitting area, private lanai and individually controlled air-conditioning.

An Umamoto, Hospice’s education coordinator, said the non-profit Hospice of Hilo in the past typically provided care for 50 or more terminally ill patients, which are those defined as having six months or less to live.

“Hospice of Hilo provides care beyond the cure for anyone facing a life-limiting illness, death or grief,” its website notes. “Focused on comfort, Hospice of Hilo care involves managing pain and symptoms so patients and their families can choose to live each day as fully as possible.”

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The new in-patient is designed to provide that in a situation as close to home care as possible, including those who previously required advanced care available locally only in a hospital setting.

“We’re now able to care for any patient at any care level,” Umamoto said.

She said the main focus of Hospice will always be in-home care, because that is where the patient is most comfortable. But the new facility will duplicate that as much as possible for those who do not have that available.

Hospice is adding roughly 15 to its workforce of about 40 employees to staff the new center.

A trained volunteer workforce of more than 100 – which last year provided more than 4,000 hours of assistance – also helps fulfill the hospice’s mission.

Hospice of Hilo has raised more than $9.4 million of the center’s $10 million construction costs and is seeking donations to complete the financing.

It also needs to fill the care center with what it is calling “items that speak of home.”

Toward that, a gift registry has been created at Macy’s.com and Target.com under the first name “Hospice” and last name “Hilo.” The community is encouraged to help by purchasing much-needed kitchen items, home décor, linens and children’s toys and books.

Hospice of Hilo has been providing compassionate end-of-life care for more than 25 years for patients from Laupahoehoe to South Point.

Care is provided to all terminally ill patients and their families without regard for ability to pay.

“We never turn away a patient,” Umamoto said. Costs can be borne by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, assisted by philanthropic gifts.

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