MONTROSE – Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado, now known as HopeWest, is very close to breaking ground on a new facility serving Montrose, Olathe, Ouray and Ridgway.
“The new building will provide a place that is warm and welcoming with adequate space for our extensive community bereavement programs,” said Nancy Hoganson, HopeWest director of community relations.
The Montrose Center for Hope, to be constructed on South Fourth Street directly across from Montrose Memorial Hospital, will house HopeWest’s patient care staff of 28 that oversees the care of over 60 patients in the area each day. In addition to patient care, the building will provide meeting rooms for HopeWest’s two adult Mending Hearts community bereavement groups. The building is planned to accommodate growth and adapt to growing numbers of staff and volunteers over the coming years.
Since launching a capital campaign just last summer, HopeWest has already raised $2.7 million of the $3 million that is needed to build the new facility. That’s enough to break ground in December, Hoganson said, adding that she is optimistic the community will come through with generous donations during the upcoming holiday season to push the fundraising effort across the finish line.
So far, the massive capital campaign has happened mostly under the radar. That changed last Thursday, when HopeWest launched an ad campaign to help build awareness about the project. “We have let the public know what we are about,” Hoganson said. “It’s been very exciting.”
It has been amazing, how quickly the idea of the new building shifted from dream to reality. Significant donors that have stepped up to the plate include Alpine Bank, the City of Montrose and Montrose County, foundations including the Daniels Fund, El Pomar Foundation, Bacon Family Foundation, the Goodwin Foundation, Montrose service clubs including Rotary and Altrusa, and a host of generous private donors.
Ouray County and Montrose County have also entered into an intergovernmental agreement to secure a Community Development Block Grant from the Department of Local Affairs to help fund the project.
“We live in a place with amazingly generous people,” Hoganson said. “They appreciate Hospice, and want to help us expand and provide more comprehensive services. The whole reason for this project is to expand the variety of services we provide for our area.”
HopeWest has been growing and evolving to meet the community's needs since it was founded in Grand Junction in 1993. Starting with just six employees, HopeWest cared for 81 patients and families in its first year. Now with a growing number of staff and volunteers the organization cares for 1,600 patients annually in Mesa, Delta, Montrose, and Ouray Counties – about 300 of whom are in the Montrose/Olathe/Ouray County service area.
Today, HopeWest is the only nonprofit Hospice organization serving the Western Slope. In addition to providing in-home, end-of-life, palliative nursing services focusing on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients, the organization has also developed extensive grief counseling services for adults and children.
HopeWest’s current Montrose location, in a shared space right across from the Cancer Center, is rent-free, which is great for the nonprofit organization, but the 2,000 square foot space is less than ideal, to say the least. “We have no bathrooms, and no running water,” Hoganson said. “Our staff have to go outdoors and across a courtyard and into other building to use the restroom. If they were not so dedicated, they would have left a long time ago.”
Over the years, HopeWest has looked at other buildings in Montrose to move into, but its list of needs was so specific (including proximity to a medical campus) that in the end, they decided to go with a purpose-built new facility that will provide them with all the space they need, with plenty of room for expansion.
HopeWest purchased the lots for the new facility two years ago. It will be located at 725 South Fourth Street, “with nothing between us and the hospital,” Hoganson said.
The spacious new building will have 6,300 sf, plus a basement for storage of wheelchairs and walkers, adding up to a total of 9,450 sf of space. The first floor will basically provide room for staff, and the upstairs will be devoted to outreach programs.
There will not be a residential nursing component to the facility. A needs assessment conducted several years ago showed that the region only needs 1.5 critical care Hospice beds per day. “You can’’t operate a facility for that need,” Hoganson explained.
Rather, HopeWest maintains one comfortably furnished Hospice room at Montrose Memorial Hospital, and two at the Valley Manor nursing home. A larger HopeWest Hospice Care Center is located in Grand Junction.
“The majority of our patients are in their own homes, which is honestly where they want to be,” Hoganson said.
With the newly expanded space, Hoganson is especially excited about growing HopeWest’s effort to reach out to children in the region. “We lose young parents way too frequently in our area,” she observed. “When we (HopeWest staff) would go to a family, everyone focused on the patient and here are these children in the background feeling invisible. We quickly realized we have to do something to help the children.”
HopeWest now serves 703 children in Grand Junction and over 100 in its Montrose/Olathe/Ouray County service area.
Children receive a variety of forms of support, including free camps, school grief groups, and individual counseling. “We have the largest childhood grief program in Colorado, and one of most innovative in the nation,” Hoganson said. “They just do amazing work.”
Heirlooms for Hospice, an upscale resale store in Montrose, pumps $90,000 into HopeWest’s Montrose budget every year, and should more than cover the maintenance costs at the new building, Hoganson said. The store is staffed by one full-time employee, three part-timers and a fleet of volunteers.
“Their average age is over 70, and a good number of them are widows,” Hoganson said. “They form a wonderful support group for each other; they are a great encouragement to each other.”
HopeWest also hosts several major fundraising events throughout the year, including a Gala in the fall that cleared $97,000 last year, and a golf tournament that brought in $26,000.
Private insurance makes up for the rest of HopeWest’s $2 million annual budget. “We don’t ever turn away a patient in need,” Hoganson said. “If they don’t have insurance, we will take them and provide all the care and medications on a sliding scale.”
Each year, HopeWest provides $700,000-$800,000 in unreimbursed care. “That is the commitment we have made to our community,” Hoganson said. “And because our communities are generous, we can afford to do those kinds of things.”
Hoganson knows the value of Hospice through her own personal experience. Her father was at HopeWest’s Hospice Care Center in Grand Junction when he died. “There are no words for the difference in care he received there,” she said. “I now understand why people are eternally grateful. I get it. It’s about helping patients and family members live those last weeks and months, with loving support, and how to make that time meaningful, how to make it exactly what they want.”
To learn more about how to support HopeWest’s capital campaign for its new Montrose Center for Hope, please visit hopewestco.org/montrose-campaign.
email@example.com or Tweet @iamsamwright