Hospice of Southern Maine has opened the doors of its new Home Hospice Center, built in response to growing demand for hospice as well as to support staff, volunteer and community needs. The facility serves as a headquarters for the organization’s home hospice clinical operations, in addition to providing an expanded space for staff training, education and community-facing bereavement programs.
In addition to its 18-bed inpatient facility of Gosnell Memorial Hospice House, Hospice of Southern Maine provides home hospice care to surrounding areas of Scarborough. Reporting a 20% rise in patient census during the past four years, the hospice broke ground on the new Home Hospice Center last summer and opened the facility mid-July of this year.
“We have seen growth in demand for home hospice care, thus specifically designed our new Hospice Center around this growing need,” Heidi Farber, director of development and outreach for Hospice of Southern Maine, told Hospice News. “We were previously leasing two spaces together that were still too small to accommodate all of our employee and community services needs such as interdisciplinary team meetings, grief support sessions, volunteer training, and outreach and education programs.”
Seniors 65 years and older in Scarborough, Maine made up roughly 20% of the town’s population in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. An upward trend is expected in coming years, with hospice utilization in Maine on the rise during the past decade. Data from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization showed that Maine ranked 19th in the nation for hospice care at 51.4% in 2018. Utah had the highest hospice utilization rate at 60.5%.
Farber described the new 14,550 square foot Home Hospice Center as a “functional touchdown space” for the organization’s home care team to collaborate on providing care to approximately 200 hospice patients daily across 68 towns and islands in southern and western Maine.
Designed with natural lighting, color schemes and elements, the building represents a contemporary coastal New England theme and features a large Community Room for education, special events and volunteering, as well as a Learning & Simulation Lab for training in end-of-life care. Partnering with Embodied Labs, the hospice developed the “Clay Lab” with a virtual reality module to allow staff a first-hand patient perspective to better understand their needs.
The center’s five-room Family Bereavement Suite with a large meeting room was a key feature, according to Farber, providing free grief counseling to the community at large.
“As the largest hospice agency in our region, [the suite] was important to us because we provide bereavement services to nearly 4,000 in our community, free of charge every year,” said Farber. “We designed this area of the new building right off the lobby to help provide privacy and the emotional support those who are grieving need.”
Funded by a capital campaign with an original goal of $5.6 million, Hospice of Southern Maine raised $6.6 million from more than 600 community supporters to support the center’s build.
“The fundraising campaign for this project had just about reached its goal when COVID-19 hit,” Farber said. “However, like other health care agencies, we suddenly had new funding needs, such as [protective personal equipment (PPE)] and technology for employees to work from home. We have a generous community that has supported us along the way, but as a nonprofit — especially a health care nonprofit during this pandemic — there are always funding needs.”
Additional pandemic-related costs included a fresh air exchange system, touchless faucets, mask and hand sanitizer stations, and glass dividers between employee workstations distanced 6 feet apart. While the building is open to employees, the hospice is currently limiting the number of staff working onsite due to COVID-19 concerns.
Long-term sustainability and cost savings were additional considerations for the center’s design, with a geothermal system that aims to decrease the Hospice of Southern Maine’s carbon dioxide emissions and reduce its overall energy costs by an estimated 96%. Excess solar power generated by the Home Hospice Center will be used to supplement electricity needs at hospice’s inpatient facility.
Cost savings will be reinvested in care delivery for patients and their families, along with community programs of educational events and grief support groups. The savings will also fund workforce growth and development. A full return on the center’s investment is anticipated within the next 18 years.
“We are so grateful to the very generous donors who made this building possible, and we’re tremendously excited about the positive impact this new space will have on our community,” said Hospice of Southern Maine CEO Daryl Cady. “In addition to the increased number of hospice patients we will be able to support, Hospice of Southern Maine designed the new Hospice Center with long-term sustainability in mind. As a healthcare and business leader in our community, we believe caring for the health of people and the environment go hand in hand.”