Hospice Care Center moves downtown near Erlanger, opens doors Monday

Hospice Care Center moves downtown near Erlanger, opens doors Monday

November 17th, 2017 by Elizabeth Fite in Local Regional News

Garry Mac, vice president of Hospice of Chattanooga, talks about the "Before I Die" wall Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, during a Senior Network meeting hosted by Hospice of Chattanooga in Renaissance Park in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Photo by Erin O. Smith /Times Free Press.

Hospice Care Center, the acute care inpatient division of Hospice of Chattanooga, will begin serving patients and families at its new, in-town location near Erlanger hospital beginning Monday morning.

For nearly eight years, the facility has been located off Interstate 75 past Hamilton Place mall, but care center leaders said they are hoping to increase convenience with the move.

"The old space served a great purpose ... but with population shifts and the changing nature of the hospital patients, there became a need to be closer to the three hospitals," said Sharon Martin, administrator of the Hospice Care Center.

Talks on moving the facility began several years ago, and the intent to move was officially announced in March.

"It was a no-brainer — then it was a just a matter of finding space, because space is tight downtown," said Garry Mac, vice president of Hospice of Chattanooga.

The 14-bed unit features some upgrades over the previous location, such as a family room with furniture, a fireplace and a refrigerator and a quiet room for prayer or meditation. Each patient room contains a full bathroom, pullout sofa and recliner, so family members can comfortably spend all hours with their loved ones.

"We look at the whole family unit, not just the terminally ill patient," Martin said.

Patients are referred to hospice when a physician determines there's a reasonable expectation of death within six months, although some patients improve during that time. Services include medical care, pain management, counseling and spiritual support for patients and family members.

The nonprofit Hospice of Chattanooga cares for everyone, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, and relies on donations to cover those patients. While Medicare provides reimbursement for most older patients, there's a great need for funding to support young adult and pediatric hospice patients.

"Every single day there's a significant percentage of patients that we're going to care for that aren't able to pay for it, but they need us," said Meg Beene, executive director of the Hospice of Chattanooga Foundation. "We're here to take care of all families."

The center raised $220,000 for supplies, furniture and decor in the new location, but the fundraising campaign is $30,000 shy of its goal.

"We've still got artwork we'd love to have sponsored. There's some tables that we don't have yet, some end tables, a coffee table, some things in the patient rooms," Beene said, adding that donations for this purpose will be accepted through the end of March.

Hospice of Chattanooga serves an 18-county region in Tennessee and Georgia. The Care Center has 26 employees including physicians, nurses, social workers, certified nursing assistants and chaplains.

Contact staff writer Elizabeth Fite at efite@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.