Good Shepherd Hospice

Good Shepherd Hospice

A Dream Becomes a Reality

BY TAMMY SEREBRIN

Adjacent to All Children’s Hospital Outpatient Center and across from Lakeland Regional Cancer Center on Lakeland Hills Boulevard sits the newly erected, 30,200 square foot state-of-the-art, Good Shepherd Hospice House. The groundbreaking of the impressive sprawling red building took place 18 months prior to the first patient admission in January of this year. The Lakeland Hospice House marks Good Shepherd Hospice’s third hospice house, with the other two located in Sebring and Auburndale.

Designed to address the needs of patients facing complex end-of-life issues, the house features private rooms with sofa sleepers and a recliner for family members, lanais, comfortable handicap accessible bathrooms and a spacious common living space. Built to accommodate 16 patients, four hallways with four rooms down each offer comfortable amenities including a laundry facility for patient families, a play area for children, a family café, and a library with Internet accessible computers. A chapel displays six custom–designed stained glass windows donated by generous contributors. A central nurse’s station wraps around the center area where the patient rooms are located. A beautiful “Tree of Life” on one of the walls consisting of leaves and plaques for purchase provides resources for unfunded patient care.

Lakeland Hospice House - private patient room lanai

“The average patient stay is three to five days,” explained Good Shepherd Hospice’s Chief Clinical Officer Becky McIntyre, RN. “It is not assisted living or a nursing home. It is the ICU of hospice where patients receive care for uncontrolled pain and symptom management.” Medicare covers the cost of care for most patients.

“Forty employees service the facility when it is at full capacity. This includes physicians, RNs, LPNs, hospital aides, chaplains and over 300 volunteers,” said Patty Perry, Director of Lakeland’s Hospice House. “It is very fulfilling work. There is nothing more satisfying than helping someone at end of life.”

LHH - private patient room with fold-out sleeper sofa

The hospice house environment focuses on the patients and their families. “It is different from a hospital in the level of care we provide,” stated Don Evans, Good Shepherd Hospice Executive Director. “We focus on what the patients and families want.” Families can stay in the room with the patient; family pets can be brought in.

“It is a higher level of care in a home-like setting.”

“We do celebrations,” said Patty Perry. “A Hospice House chaplain recently performed a wedding ceremony for the daughter and son-in-law (both of whom are active military) of a patient.” The couple wanted to have the father (who is ex-military) at their wedding so it took place right in the patient’s room. There were 12 family members attending who were also all exmilitary.

Good Shepherd Hospice House recognizes and honors veterans. There are flag brackets outside of each room for an American flag to be placed when a resident is a veteran, and beads (made by Girl Scouts) are put on the pole recognizing different branches of the military. The staff is trained to work with veterans, recognizing that each deals with end of life differently. “It is our way of thanking them and their families. It is the last time to say thank you,” commented Becky McIntyre.

stained glass in chapel. Donated in memory of Jack Stone, MD

A second building still under construction on the Lakeland Hospice House campus will house the Good Shepherd Hospice administrative offices which are now located in downtown Lakeland. Good Shepherd Hospice is part of the Chapters Health System and is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that supports approximately 500 patients each day in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. It has been part of the community since 1979 and is a 2008 recipient of a Circle of Life Citation of Honor Award. The United Way of Central Florida partially funds the community programs offered by Good Shepherd Hospice.

The staff welcomes the public to visit the facility. For more information visit their website at www. chaptershealth.org/hospice.

Lakeland Hospice House - Evans, Perry, McIntyre