An eagerly anticipated venture to create the area's only inpatient hospice care center made a significant stride forward this weekend as Lourdes' philanthropic arm announced completion of its fundraising campaign.
The Lourdes Foundation declared Saturday that the Campaign for Lourdes Hospice Care Center officially met its $7 million total fundraising goal to fund construction of the Ray and Kay Eckstein Hospice Care Center at Lourdes hospital and establish a hospice services endowment fund.
The campaign to expand Lourdes' hospice program with the proposed 10,000 square foot inpatient center was introduced publicly in September only $600,000 shy of the $7 million. A rallying effort by the local community brought the campaign total above $7.1 million as of Dec. 27, said Tara Miller, Lourdes vice president and chief philanthropy officer.
"It's humbling just to have the community confirm that this is such a need, and to know that this project will touch so many lives and that we did it through the partnership with the community to fully fund the project," Miller said. "We're just so grateful."
With successful completion of the capital campaign, construction on the $5 million hospice care center will begin in the upcoming months on a 12-month construction cycle that could see the center open as soon as spring 2015. The roughly $2 million remaining will be placed into an endowment fund to provide hospice patient care.
Once completed, the hospice care center will be the first of its kind in far-western Kentucky. A home-like atmosphere design with patient comfort in mind is the focus of the 10-unit center, which will be located immediately adjacent to the current intensive care unit at the hospital. The project represents a substantial expansion of end-of-life services that Lourdes has offered in the home setting for more than 30 years.
"This is going to be such a fantastic option that we haven't been able to offer to people before," said Kay Williams, Lourdes Hospice director.
"It's very humbling to see this support. We knew the community was this supportive of hospice, and have known that for a long time, but to see that really come in the form of monetary donations to a campaign project is just overwhelming. It's so much more than what you could even hope for."
Substantial donations to the foundation took the project to completion in the past several months, including funds from Lourdes' staff and volunteers, former patients and community members and local businesses. The facility was named in honor of Ray and Kay Eckstein after the couple's charitable trust committed $1.5 million to the project in November, stemming from their firsthand experience with Lourdes Hospice when their son-in-law died of cancer in 2011 as a Lourdes patient.
Both Miller and Williams said much of the positive feedback for the project resulted from hospice experiences throughout the community where Lourdes' care providers helped families transition through an end-of-life scenario with loved ones.
Jim Garrett, chairman of the Lourdes Foundation Board of Directors, said his family personally experienced end-of-life care when his brother died of pancreatic cancer 10 years ago. At the time there wasn't an inpatient hospice center where his brother lived in southern Indiana, and seeing hospital staff trying to provide clinical care instead of palliative care made for a difficult scenario.
Garrett said the new hospice care center will meet that challenge and provide not only respectful and comforting terminal care, but peace of mind for families as their loved ones pass.
"It's heartwarming and really amazing, to me, what has transpired in a really short period of time," Garrett said. "It's a magnitude that very few organizations, especially in a community of this size, ever attempt and then so quickly be successful at. It's a credit, No. 1, to the project, but also, No. 2, to the leadership provided by those committed to the campaign. It's something that a small community can be very proud of."
Contact Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676 or follow @WCPinkston on Twitter.