Gala celebrates near completion of Fairfield County Hospice House
STAMFORD — Six patients will be the first to receive end-of-life care next month at the state’s only hospice center designed as a home.
The Fairfield County Hospice House will be ready to receive guests after nearly a decade of planning, making it one of the few hospice centers in Connecticut and filling a void after a 12-bed hospice on Shelburne Road, Richard L. Rosenthal Hospice, closed in 2011.
Guests will use their own care providers at the 10,000-square-foot Den Road house, which has six hospice bedrooms that walk out onto the property, common areas and space for caretakers to stay overnight.
The Westover hospice house is expected to serve 300 patients a year and is designed for those who are unable to receive hospice care at home and who want peaceful, non-clinical surroundings to live out their final days.
“If the families can’t have somebody at home because they have little kids or they’re frail themselves, this is an opportunity for them to do that,” board of directors member Julia Portale said. “We’ve tried to make it as much of a home as possible.”
“This is an exciting an opportunity for all of us to change the way people feel about end-of-life care,” said hospice house Executive Director Terry Robustelli at a gala Wednesday celebrating the near-completion of the house.
The project faced hurdles getting off the ground. The land was donated by the Roxbury Community Association, as were the supplies and labor that went into building it, but founding board members still had to raise $1 million and secure another $1 million from the state to complete the project.
There were challenges at the state level with regulations that had never addressed this type of hospice facility. It is considered in a different category than the 52-bed Connecticut Hospice, the first of its kind in the country when it opened in Branford in 1974, and the 12-bed regional Regional Hospice & Home Care Center in Danbury.
“This has been an incredible labor of love,” said founding board member Rick Redniss, president of land-use consulting and design firm Redniss & Mead, who teared up during his speech.
“This is a dedication to making sure that those folks whose homes are simply too small or don’t have a home sufficient to allow for their care (can receive) the folks who need to come and visit them,” Gov. Dannel P. Mally said at the event.
“This is a different model, a different scale. It’s community appropriate,” he said. “It will allow for the delivery of these services in support of the frail and the families of the frail.”
Includes prior reporting by Angela Carella and Keila Torres Ocasio