A serene, home-like setting in Eugene is providing a comfortable hospice space for both patients in their final days, and their families.
The Pete Moore Hospice House opened two years ago, providing terminally-ill patients with a level of care that is greater than what they could get at home, but in a setting much less like a hospital.
“It’s been a vision 15 years in the making,” says Kaitlyn Tepe, director of marketing for Cascade Health, the healthcare nonprofit behind the hospice house. Cascade Health offers home health care, pain management, in-home hospice care and counseling. “Cascade Health has been serving people in their homes who needed hospice care since the 1980s, but we recognized that not every person is going to have a home setting that is able to meet their needs as their life-limiting diagnosis progresses.”
Cascade Health was approached by oncologists with the idea of creating a hospice house as a resource for the community, “and most were shocked we didn’t have one,” she says.
The Pete Moore House — named for the local businessman, Cascade Health board member, philanthropist and community healthcare advocate who lost his battle with leukemia in 2008 — has 14 patient rooms and sits on nearly five acres at the end of a tree-lined drive. PMHH is the largest of Oregon’s four hospice houses and the first of its kind in Lane County.
Feels like home
Built in the Northwest craftsman style, the 17,000-square-foot facility resembles a large family home. Much of the building materials were donated, and one hallway features “donor doves” to honor significant donors.
“Every one of the contractors or the tradesmen who came in to do woodwork or stonework poured their hearts into making this space what it is,” Tepe says.
Festival of Trees has been donating to the hospice house for more than 10 years and hopes future donations will pay off the building.
Every detail has been considered to give patients and their families a comfortable experience, even considering the ceiling design for patients entering on a gurney. As Tepe walks through, she passes a large but cozy entryway with a fireplace that rivals most ski lodges. Nearby is an intimate library.
The kitchen is stocked with common ingredients for families to make or serve a meal. A non-denominational chapel has doors that are oversize “so a patient’s bed can come right in here,” Tepe says. “The light and the beautiful nature outside makes this a great space to just be, for either the patient or family members.”
Each room maximizes a connection with the outdoors through oversized doors that allow a patient’s bed to be rolled out onto a private patio overlooking a flower garden, walking paths, mature trees, flowers and a 2/3-acre pond.
“We’re often looking for beauty at the point in our journey that our patients end up here, whether it’s for ourselves or for our loved ones,” Tepe says. “This space gives a lot of opportunity to find that. These spaces get used a lot, which is so special. I recall a really sweet gentleman and his daughter who had always enjoyed spending time together outdoors. When she was here, they just rolled out on the patio and sat out here and soaked in that sun and fresh air. He could not stop talking about how important it was to him, to spend that time in the great outdoors with his daughter, and how that gave him a memory and experience that was so important.”
Every room has a pullout couch and a chair that reclines into a sleeper for family members. All rooms have a fireplace, and medical equipment hidden behind paneling, so the rooms don’t feel like a sterile clinical environment.
“This facility is licensed as a specialty hospital, but it really doesn’t look like it,” Tepe says. “You can really get a sense of home even though there’s so much medical care that’s available. And that’s exactly what we had envisioned, because we put a lot of forethought into how we built this space.”
To be eligible for hospice care, two physicians must agree about the outcome of a patient’s illness, and determine the patient has less than six months to live.
The most common way patients access hospital-level care at PMHH is because they’re already receiving hospice care in their home and then something changes — for instance, they need more pain management or their illness progresses to the point that it is no longer feasible to be managed at home.
PMHH does offer respite care for patients with in-home caregivers. Tepe tells of one patient who came to PMHH for a few days while his family members and caregivers traveled to California for a family graduation. The patient enjoyed telling everyone that he was going to the “fishing lodge,” while his family members went to “the beach.” Although he couldn’t fish in the pond, the staff made the most of it and gave him a fishing pole.
“That’s the heart and the intention of respite care and of hospice care,” Tepe says. “We provide comfort that then allows people and caregivers the chance to recuperate so that they’re able to keep going.”
For those choosing residential care, medical care is covered by health isurance, but room and board must be paid out of pocket. Among the reasons people choose a hospice house could be religious beliefs or shielding the situation from young children. “Residential care can be a great resource for members of the community who don’t have any loved ones remaining or who know that maybe their family situation wouldn’t allow them to live with a loved one,” Tepe says. “Or maybe their loved one is facing their own medical challenge and there’s no way that both could be receiving the type of care they need in the same setting. There are a lot of reasons that people choose to take advantage of residential care.”
An admission team provides information and an evaluation upon request. The team walks you through the process, coordinates with physicians and matches the patient with the appropriate level of care when it is desired.
Become a volunteer
The facility has a full staff but also has plenty of room for volunteers, many of whom spend time with patients in their final days, particularly if they are alone or don’t have family members nearby. Some come by to bake cookies or help with making meals for patients. Others visit with patients in their homes just to sit and talk. Each volunteer receives more than 30 hours of specialized training.
“There are a lot of volunteering opportunities and something we hear over and over again is how meaningful it is for the family members to know that there’s extra support and it’s also meaningful for the volunteers to get to be a comfort,” Tepe says.
PMHH has an assistance program for patients who couldn’t afford to be there otherwise. “It’s the beauty of being a nonprofit that we can do what’s best for that exact situation and we will find the resources in this incredibly generous community to help make that happen,” she says. ☸
Pete Moore Hospice House, 4010 County Farm Road, 541-228-3050. Visit cascadehealth.org/PMHH.