County could get first in-patient hospice service

Snohomish County’s first inpatient hospice service could open by the end of next year, pending approval from the state Department of Health.

The $5 million unit, which could serve up to 16 patients, would open on the Colby campus of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

The request to open the new service was made by Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County.

The nonprofit service, which was founded in 1978, currently assists patients in their homes. Last year, it served 1,776 children and adults, said Angelique Leone, foundation director for Providence Hospice and Homecare of Snohomish County.

The inpatient service would provide help to patients who are too ill to be treated at home.

Hospice patients are admitted to inpatient units when their symptoms, such as pain, aren’t being adequately managed at home.

Once the symptoms are under better control, they can be sent home, if that’s where they want to be, Leone said. Other patients are admitted to inpatient centers when their family caregivers need a temporary break. And some are admitted just before their death.

The typical length of stay for inpatient services is about six-and-a-half days, she said.

The state Department of Health is accepting public comment on the proposal until May 8. A decision is scheduled by July 7, according to Donn Moyer, a spokesman for the state agency.

If the project gets the go-ahead, construction on the 16,354-square-foot unit will begin immediately, Leone said. It will be housed on the eighth floor of the Colby campus’ A wing, an older brick building on the hospital campus.

The closest inpatient hospice units are in Bellingham, Kirkland and in Pierce County, Leone said.

Plans for an inpatient hospice service in Snohomish County date back a decade. Sister Georgette Bayless, who helped found the county’s hospice service, challenged the organization to open inpatient services in 2003 during its 25th anniversary celebration.

In 2007, the organization announced it was looking for a 2.5-acre site in central Snohomish County as the first step in opening the county’s only inpatient hospice center.

The agency was on the verge of buying a 2-acre site in south Everett in 2009, but those plans came to an abrupt halt due to the recession.

With the approval of donors, some of that money set aside for that project has been saved in the hope that an inpatient hospice center could eventually be opened in Snohomish County.

Those and more recent donations bring the current total for the project to $2.4 million. That still leaves about $2.9 million that needs to be raised, Leone said.

“We’ve got a great opportunity to partner with the hospital in a portion of the facility that’s not being used,” said Peg Rutchik, a vice president of Providence Senior and Community Services.

The space became available following the opening of the hospital’s $460 million medical tower in 2011. The new hospice care center could open in November 2015, Rutchik said.

Instead of trying to build something from scratch, the organization can use existing space to move the project along quicker, Rutchik said. “It really is an ideal opportunity.”

Sharon Salyer: 425 339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

Learn more

For more information about the project call Providence Hospice and Home Care Foundation, Snohomish County at 425-261-4805.

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