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Lourdes breaks ground on hospice center

BY LAUREL BLACKlblack@paducahsun.com

Lourdes hospital broke ground Tuesday on a long-awaited project intended to provide better service to patients facing the end of life.

Lourdes staff and donors gathered on the future site of the 10,000-square-foot Ray & Kay Eckstein Hospice Care Center for the groundbreaking ceremony, where contributors to the $7 million project were recognized.

"I firmly believe we must provide this care in a dignified, comfortable setting where end-of-life care is a personal experience," Lourdes President and CEO Steven Grinnell said during the ceremony. "Doing so is what Lourdes represents, and what we are meant to do."

The care center will offer 10 large private rooms, complete with kitchens and patios, as well as a family room, a chapel and a serenity garden. The intention is to provide not only medical care, but spiritual and emotional assistance in a setting where family members can visit comfortably, Lourdes Foundation President Tara Miller said.

The capital campaign for the center went public last September and reached its goal of $7 million by the end of 2013. The amount covers construction costs and a $2 million endowment. The hospital expects to open the complex in the next eight to 12 months, with contractor Ray Black & Sons beginning construction by the end of this month, she said.

"It's been an amazing experience to see the community rally around the project and support it so generously," Miller said.

The Eckstein Charitable Trust committed $1.5 million, a decision driven in part by personal experience, Ray Eckstein said. Eckstein's son-in-law, Tom Erickson, died of cancer three years ago, so the family understands the need for a facility devoted exclusively to end-of-life care, he said.

"It's something we feel Paducah needed, so I'm really happy to be a part of it," Eckstein said.

The hospice program has existed for more than 30 years and provides care for patients in 13 Kentucky counties and three Illinois counties. Between 50 and 60 paid staff members visit patients at home, in nursing homes or in hospitals to provide palliative care, said Kay Williams, director of hospice and home services.

"It really is about the team, the patient and the family getting what they want," she said of hospice care.

"It's about everyone working together to get the best outcome possible."

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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