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Gazette Premium Content Pikes Peak Hospice opens new unit in Penrose Hospital

ANDREW WINEKE Updated: June 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care took the wraps off its new in-patient facility Monday located on the sixth floor of Penrose Hospital.

When the first patients arrive in mid-July, the new, 16-bed facility will replace Pikes Peak Hospice’s current 26-bed in-patient facility located in the old St. Francis Health Center.

Although the program loses some beds and shrinks from about 14,000 square feet to 11,000 square feet in the move, Pikes Peak Hospice president and CEO Martha Barton said patients will receive smoother, more peaceful end-of-life care inside Penrose Hospital.

Transferring patients between facilities by ambulance is stressful and wasteful, she said.

“We lose time when we could be helping them,” Barton said. “We try very much to make it smoother and simpler for them.”

Being located within Penrose also gives patients access to room service, a chapel and the hospital gardens, Barton said.

Most of Pikes Peak Hospice’s roughly 300 patients on a given day are cared for at home or in nursing homes, but many of them spend at least some time in the in-patient facility being stabilized before they can return home. The new space, officially called the Pikes Peak Hospice Unit at Penrose Hospital, features big rooms, most with views of Pikes Peak, and fold-out sofa beds for family members. The pages that are a constant background noise in the rest of the hospital are turned off and there is a piano at one end of the floor and there will be an aviary on the other side.

Margaret Sabin, president and CEO of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, said the new unit is a partnership that fills a gap in Penrose’s services by providing end of life care.

“It was like a puzzle piece was missing,” she said.

She said having hospice within the hospital would make it easier for doctors and families to discuss a difficult subject.

“I think they’re going to have a sense of calm, isn’t that what you want most at that point in life?” Sabin said.

Barton said the Penrose unit is the first step in what will be several changes for her organization. Pikes Peak Hospice, she said, is looking for a new building to house its administrative offices and home care operations, and hopes to locate an in-patient unit at Memorial Health System in the next several years.

Don Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, attended the opening ceremony and said that, with the aging baby boomer generation, there will soon be more need for hospice services than ever before. More than 70 million Americans will die between now and 2028, he said.

“It’s a lot of people who will need end of life care,” Schumacher said. “If you have someone in a hospital (already), it makes transitions so much easier.”

Construction on the new facility began in February, just a month after a burst pipe flooded the old unit at St. Francis Health Center on New Year’s Eve and forced the evacuation of 10 patients.

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