LAKEWOOD – A first of its kind lodging for the terminally ill in Chautauqua County opened with a ribbon cutting on Tuesday.
For the past several years, work to build the Star Hospice House in Lakewood was top priority for those with Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care.
Former Hospice nurse Mary Rappole worked with her husband Bert in leading the fundraising campaign.
“As care providers, we’re certainly aware of what the dying process is about, and how that affects families. We’d like to think that people will now have the comfort and the safety of being in a home that can provide all the care,” says Mrs. Rappole.
The agency’s C.E.O and President Shauna Anderson explains that the house is able to care for five individuals at a time, where they will receive expert 24/7 attention. There is also a guest house for family members to stay in, so they can focus on their loved ones instead of traveling.
“We’ve needed it, we have 2 or 3 people a week that call our office and say, ‘I need a hospice residence.’ And up to this point, what we’ve been doing is sending them to the Blair House in Warren, because that’s the only hospice around,” explains Anderson. “So it’s long overdue, we’re thrilled that after 30 years it’s here and it’s beautiful.”
Though the project was set back due to supply shortages and cost increases caused by the pandemic, the home is now ready to provide comfort for over 200 patients each year.
Anderson goes on to say her staff will not just help with medical care, but emotional care too.
“It’s about reconciliation, lots of us have maybe had a fallout with a child or something like that. And it’s about having the time and the expertise. Our social workers do a lot of family meetings and help resolve some of those issues so that you can be comfortable,” says Anderson.
The house is built to feel like a home, and once inspected and approved by the Health Department, it’s doors will officially open to those in need.
“Palliative care was a floor in the hospital where you went to. It was a hospital, institutional setting. What this Star Home brings to those families is a sense of peace, and a sense of spending their last days in their home, or what is going to be their home as they depart,” says Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel.
Those with the local hospice group thanked the community for their support, and encouraged anyone who is interested in volunteering at the home, to reach out.