Tuesday, December 19, 2000, Vol. 114, No. 243

A Residential Hospice in Memphis To Become a Reality Residential hospice in Memphis to become reality By MARY DANDO The Daily News Opening a much-needed residential hospice might at first glance seem something of a suicide mission. But Caby Byrne, former administrator of Hospice Services at Methodist Alliance Healthcare Services Inc., not only believes it can be done, hes busy making it happen. Hospice of the River will start a fund-raising campaign in January to raise $7.2 million, which will be used to build a residential hospice. Byrne has been named as executive director, and Sally Woodmansee, who has been involved with fund-raising efforts on behalf of Lausanne Collegiate School and WKNO-TV, Channel 10, has been named as director of development. Byrne said the organization would build the 25-bed facility from the ground up. He hopes to find a location Downtown but the group also was looking at other locations. He and several other hospice directors have got together to provide a home-like facility for those who have no one to care for them, rather than relying on the hospital-like setting of a nursing home or hospital. "Its going to be a 25-bed facility for persons who are terminally ill where they will receive hospice care collaboratively with some of the other hospice programs that do this. We are working with Methodist, Baptist and St. Francis, even though it will be open to anybody to use," he said. A residential hospice is for the terminally ill who are transferred there when a doctor believes that person has six months or less to live. An ordained Baptist minister, Byrne was once a chaplain at West Point but for the past 20 years he has been working in the hospice field. Byrne said a residential hospice opened recently in Nashville and there are similar facilities in East Tennessee, but that Hospice of the River will be the first residential hospice in Memphis. The organization is anticipating some foundation support. Plans are to break ground in the summer and to open the following summer, Byrne said. "We are going to continue to try and raise funds on an ongoing basis to supplement some of our cost needs because we do want to make it available to people who have limited resources. "Most hospice care as far as the hospice is concerned receives some reimbursement for instance Medicare, TennCare/Medicaid and private insurance. The only thing that is not reimbursed that people will have to have some degree of help with is for persons who stay as an end-of-life living arrangement would have to pay room and board to stay there," he said. The residential hospice, similar to one in Nashville, will offer three types of service: end-of-life care for those in last stages of a disease; convalescent care for those who are undergoing treatment and need a few days of recovery before returning home; and respite care for family caregivers. Hospice of the River has already received start-up grants from Assisi Foundation of Memphis, United Way of the Mid-South and Holy Communion Episcopal Church. John Snyder of Commercial Realty Inc./CRESA, a board member of Hospice of the River and also a member of Holy Communion Episcopal Church, got involved through the churchs outreach program. His mother had spent her last months in a residential hospice in Toledo, Ohio. "My mother spent the last two months of her life in the loving care of people that understood where she was and where the family was and provided her with the best care that could be provided so that she could quietly live out her life," he said. "It was a very uplifting experience to be there, and to know that our mother was in a residential home as opposed to a very hard, cold hospital," Snyder said. Karon OConnell, president of the board of Hospice of the River and vice president of Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. Home Care and Hospice division, has local responsibility for Baptist Trinity Home Care. "I think its really special and unique that all three health care systems are represented plus a phenomenal community board on top of that," she said. "I am very happy to be a part of it and just thrilled at the progress we are making and that we are getting this great response to it," she said. Although the regulations state that to be admitted to a hospice, a person must be deemed by a physician to have six months or less to live, OConnell said as long as a person is considered "hospice-appropriate" that person can remain at the hospice until he or she dies. OConnell said they had added an extra $1.5 million to their original funding target because they wanted to develop an endowment that would ensure that Hospice of the River would continue. "We hope to expand. Our architectural plan is such that it will be easy to add on more beds. We really think that it will be successful," OConnell said. The residential hospice will have its own medical director, a physician who specializes in end-of-life care, on site who will coordinate care with the residents own doctors. Hospice will also have an administrator and a director of nursing. "End-of-life care is going to be huge in this country in the next 10 years. They are offering more training for physicians in end-of-life care now," OConnell said. She stressed a hospice is not just for old people. "We have a lot of 40- and 30-year olds in our program who sometimes leave young children. Its cancer mainly, its AIDS or its some type of disease such as congestive heart failure," she said. Volunteers play a very big role in the residential hospice, OConnell said. Anyone interested in helping the group get the project moving can call Woodmansee, 527-7701 ext. 131. Donations may be sent to Hospice of the River, 266 S. Front St., Memphis, Tenn., 38103.