Angie Barmes, an Indiana hospice nurse and her husband Andrew, a building contractor, are paving the way for a new Vincennes, Ind.-based hospice facility on the grounds of a 19th Century Victorian building they recently acquired from Knox County in their home state.
The seed was Angie Barmes’ passion for hospice care. While working in a nursing home as a physical therapist a number of years ago, she took note of the care that patients’ received from their hospice nurses. Later, after her family endured six deaths within as many years, she felt inspired to pursue a nursing degree and a career in the hospice field.
“I noticed the comfort and care that the hospice nurses who came into our nursing home were giving to the residents. It was just exceptional. A great need that was being met,” Angie Barmes told Hospice News. “I started really developing a passion for hospice care, and so I went back to nursing school so that I could work towards providing hospice care for patients and their families.”
The new facility, the County Farm Hospice House Inc., a nonprofit, will house hospice patients who are unable to receive care in a residence due to a lack of available family caregivers, for financial reasons, or if their medical condition precludes it. Hospices from the local community will be able to see patients in the hospice house. While the facility will have a nursing staff, primary responsibility for the patients’ care will continue to lie with existing hospices in the area.
The hospice house is expected to begin operations within two years. A board of directors has been assembled.
Knox County transferred the property to the Barmes without exchanging money, but the project must meet certain benchmarks in order for the structure to remain under their wings. Per an agreement with the Barmes, ownership of the building will revert to the county within two years if insufficient progress is made. Historically, the building and grounds were used to house poor and homeless county residents. It has been unoccupied for decades.
Andrew Barmes Builders will implement substantial renovation to make the building ready to receive patients, including replacing the roof, restoring the 13-foot ceilings and large fireplaces and windows. The building first went up in 1875 and initially had no electricity or indoor plumbing.
“It’s in very bad need of repair. I felt like this would be an opportunity to help my wife fulfill her dream of opening up a hospice house and also give something back to the community by not letting this structure fall down,” Andrew Barmes said. “Our first goal is to get a new roof on it to stop water from coming in, and then we’re going to clear the inside and start fresh with new mechanicals and electrical. It’s basically a total redo of the building.”