News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Hospice seeking local help in building challenge

The starting gun has sounded and the race is underway here in Sisters to raise $100,000 toward an overall goal of $6 million donated for construction of a new 12-bed Hospice House on the Partners In Care campus in Bend to serve all of Central Oregon.

The project already has local donations of $10,500 and they hope to have the total amount by June 30, 2021. Six million dollars will come from donations and $6 million from reserve funds at Partners In Care.

Sisters resident Bill Willitts is a member of the 18-person Campaign Council at Partners In Care, charged with raising the money for the project. Willitts is taking a unique approach to his fundraising. He has recruited a team of seven locals to help secure $100,000 from the residents of Sisters Country. Any gift, no matter how large or small, is welcome. If the local community is successful in raising the $100,000, one of the 12 suites in the new Hospice House will be named Three Sisters in honor of local residents’ efforts.

The Sisters Country Challenge is being undertaken by Willitts and his committee of Dr. Kevin Miller, Fran Willis, John Griffith, Donna Lipscomb, Rob Corrigan and Sue Stafford. Residents may be hearing from one of them soon.

“My involvement is based on my respect for and friendship with Eric (Alexander, President and CEO of Partners In Care) and enhanced by my various visits to the facility. Equal to that is the fact that each of Zoe’s and my parents died at home with the support of hospice teams. They were very different deaths, yet each was supported by an amazing team,” explained Willitts as to why he is involved in this fundraising effort.

Dr. Kevin Miller, of Sisters High Lakes Health Care, shared his view on the importance of hospice and the new Hospice House:

“With the advent of hospice care, modern medicine took a leap forward. Medicine has been known, and should continue to be known, as a caring profession. Today, modern medicine is celebrated for great scientific discovery. And while those great discoveries continue to impress, caring people use timeless principles of great care for those facing something we all will face — the end of life.

“As Central Oregon grows, Hospice House wants to be ready to meet the future needs of our community. This way we can assure there will be a caring team for each of us in our time of need,” Miller said.

Hospice House provides general inpatient (GIP) care when symptoms such as pain cannot be managed through home hospice care. GIP care is comprehensive medical care overseen by physicians. It is not curative care. Instead of calling 911 or rushing to an emergency room, the patient is transported to Hospice House for a short-term stay. Approximately 28 percent of patients will be discharged back to their home within five days, while roughly 72 percent will die at Hospice House, where they and their loved ones have received the best possible 24/7 care.

Hospice House also provides less intensive routine and respite care for a short duration to give family caregivers a break from the stress of tending to the complex needs of their loved one, or to provide an in-between place before transitioning from hospital to home or nursing facility. In the current six-bed facility, there is almost never space to provide respite care.

In 2003, Hospice House opened with six private rooms, a family room, dining room, chapel and sunroom. The building also accommodated administrative offices. In 2009, Hospice of Bend-La Pine and Central Oregon Home Health & Hospice merged and became known as Partners In Care. Despite a deep economic recession at the time, the organization emerged as an even more robust end-of-life care provider in the region. Hospice House is one of only three such inpatient facilities in Oregon and is the only one east of the Cascades. Patients from any hospice or hospital may be admitted to Hospice House.

Over 40 years ago, the region’s first hospice was born from the vision of a small group of individuals determined to provide better care to those who were dying. They sought to help those who wanted to die at home or in a home-like setting. They called themselves Friends of Hospice.

Today, Partners In Care is a Medicaid and Medicare-certified nonprofit organization with nearly 200 staff and 145 specially trained volunteers. They have outgrown their current facilities. After the new Hospice House is completed, hopefully in fall 2021, the current building will be remodeled to accommodate the growing administrative and program service functions.

Partners In Care is known for high-quality patient care delivered by physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, social workers, chaplains, home care assistants, therapists and volunteers. Quality scores rank well above national averages, earning recognition as a superior-performing organization.

Every dollar given will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, by a $1 million challenge grant from the Tykeson Family Foundation, doubling the impact of our gifts.

For more information, view the video at You can also call 541-706-1335 with questions.

Donations and pledges may be sent to Partners In Care at 2075 NE Wyatt Ct., Bend OR 97701-7686. Clearly indicate that your gift is to be credited toward the Sisters Country Challenge so it will count toward the $100,000 goal.

The new Hospice House currently under construction is designed with one mandate: to reinforce and preserve the dignity of the people using hospice as they complete their lives.

According to proposed design specifications, spacious suites will all feature abundant natural light. Families will be able to comfortably spend the night, gather in beautiful common areas, or escape to more private nooks to read or visit. Additionally, they may receive counseling or reflect in the chapel, enjoy the outdoor garden and play spaces, and spend time in a pet park where the family dog can relax off-leash.

Curved corridors are designed to resemble a street with spots to view the scenery. A unique feature is the “journey wall” that extends from the end of the patient care wing through the greatroom and ends at the chapel.

A lantern tucked into an alcove niche at the entrance to each room will welcome visitors. Each room will be named for a unique feature of the Central Oregon landscape, with the artwork of that river, peak, or canyon on the walls of the room. Quilts made by local quilters will provide a home-like welcome. A large smart-TV will allow for both entertainment and communication with distant friends and relatives, while a small refrigerator will enable family members to store perishables. Oxygen and suction equipment will be hidden within the walls, making for a quieter and less clinical experience when oxygen support is needed.

Food for patients and family members will be prepared in a commercial kitchen with a pass-through feature for easy serving. Visitors will also be able to bring their own food and beverages into Hospice House.

The atmosphere will be one where the coffee pot is always on, and soup and freshly baked cookies are standard. Such amenities are part of the hospice philosophy of care: At Hospice House, families can set aside their role as caregivers to be fully present as family members.

The new building includes a chapel designed to welcome people of all beliefs. Outside the chapel will be a polished basalt water feature with an infinity edge, surrounded by a “wispy garden” and more mature layered plantings to provide a sense of privacy and reflection.

The landscape design features native plant material and ornamental grasses. Deciduous trees are planned, including the columnar Swedish aspen that provides both visual interest and a soothing sound as the leaves flutter and rustle in the breeze. The red twig dogwood shrub remains red in the winter to provide additional interest. On a wall in the garden will be bronze leaves with the names of contributors.

All of the designed features will work together to create a home-like feeling, providing an oasis of comfort and care.


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