Construction on a new wing for the hospice care facility at the historic Holmes Park House is officially underway.
Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice, the nonprofit group spearheading the $4 million project, held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning at the 217 S. Modoc Ave. home, originally built in 1939 for Harry & David co-founder Harry Holmes.
“Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you need to pinch yourself to make certain it’s really happening?” hospice board president Carolyn Johnson asked a gathered crowd in a welcome speech. “This is one of those moments for me.”
The new wing will add 5,723 square feet to the 7,860-square-foot facility, which includes the basement. That addition will include eight new patient rooms, adding to the four in the main home. The end result will be a live-in facility for patients who prefer to be on hospice but cannot be cared for at home in their final days of life.
“Which happens to many, many people,” said Executive Director Susan Hearn, adding about 40 percent of people on hospice at the end of life are unable to remain at home for care. “(They do) not have enough family that’s available, have an elderly or infirm spouse themselves, or live alone. And so the Holmes Park House will be the place where people can come and have hospice care and skilled caregivers taking care of them.”
Project completion is about eight to nine months out. The hospice group raised $2 million to purchase the home and draft up the plans, and will shift to public campaign fundraising to raise the remaining $2 million needed to finish.
Six of the beds will be subsidized through methods that include hospital lease agreements, Medicaid/Care Oregon reimbursement, charity care, and earned income from the organization’s Hospice Unique Boutique store in Ashland. The other six beds will be private pay, with four of the rooms in the main part of the home priced at $280 per day, or $6,500 a month. Two remaining “premium” rooms will be $350 per day, or $8,000 per month.
Features in the new wing include a nurses station, private sitting room and kitchenette area. The main house already includes community rooms for a sanctuary library, sunroom, family kitchenette dining room and kitchen. Staffing will include an administrator, full-time and on-call registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, a cook, housekeeper, groundskeepers and a volunteer coordinator.
The facility will coordinate individual patients’ plans of care with Asante, Providence and Signature hospice services, Hearn said.
Originally on a 20-acre property, more than 18 acres of the land were gifted to the city of Medford in 1973 by John Holmes, Harry Holmes’ son. The remaining 1.68 acres of private property sits among well-maintained grounds that offer views of the park and nearby mountain ranges.
For Johnson, it’s a project 12 years in the making. She helped start a hospice home visiting program at Ashland Community Hospital in 2005. That same year, she toured a hospice home facility in Bend.
“I asked the administrator who was touring us, ’Who uses the hospice house?’” Johnson said. “And she started telling stories, and when you think about people who would prefer to die in their own home, but it’s not possible for any number of reasons, it sort of opened my eyes.”
At that time, there were only three such facilities in the state.
“I said, ‘Southern Oregon. We have to have one in Southern Oregon,’” Johnson said.
Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice, created in 2009, decided to build the Rogue Valley’s first hospice residential care facility in 2013. After a lengthy search, the nonprofit purchased the property in April 2016.
The hospice group will hold public tours at 11 a.m. one Saturday a month. Visit https://sofriendsofhospice.org for more information or call 541-500-8911.