February 24, 2021

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Design your heritage

Care to the end | Columns

It started with compassion.

The dream was to create a peaceful inpatient environment to provide compassionate care to hospice patients as they faced the end of life and comfort to families as they said their goodbyes.

The leaders of Visiting Nurse were faced with finding a new home for our inpatient unit, which had been housed at the old Lutheran Hospital on Fairfield Avenue since 1995. Several years later, when plans were made to tear down the Lutheran facility, Visiting Nurse’s leadership and board of directors were tasked with creating a new hospice inpatient facility where those facing the end of life could be cared for in a homelike setting.

Visiting Nurse’s leadership and board of directors rallied around this dream. Ground was broken for Hospice Home in May 2000, and the facility opened in February 2001 at 5910 Homestead Road in southwest Fort Wayne.

Since then, Hospice Home has provided care and support for more than 10,000 individuals, ranging in age from 5 months to 103.

The ripple of impact in our community from those more than 10,000 individuals served is immense, as each family and friend of that loved one was supported by Visiting Nurse as well. If you have had a loved one cared for at Hospice Home, you may have experienced the extended love and care that the Visiting Nurse team provided to your entire family.

Hospice Home is a 14-bed unit that has a much different feel from a hospital or any other health care setting. Each patient room is set up much like a bedroom in a private home, and each room has a window that overlooks the beautiful Seasons of Life gardens that are maintained by a band of garden volunteers year-round.

Hospice Home also has family gathering areas, a kitchen, sunroom, chapel-like reflection room and conference areas.

The quiet atmosphere provides a respite from often-noisy hospitals where bells and monitors provide distracting background noise.

At Hospice Home, staff maintain a peaceful surrounding. Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked to ensure that visitors are welcome around the clock, which is so important when a loved one is facing the end of life.

At Hospice Home, Visiting Nurse cares for patients who reside throughout northeast Indiana. In some cases, patients are referred directly from a hospital. In other cases, families may reach out to Visiting Nurse to learn more about this option for their loved ones.

Many times, patients come to Hospice Home because of symptoms they are experiencing that need to be managed in a 24-hour setting that is staffed with hospice professionals. Visiting Nurse’s hospice team is made up of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, music therapists, grief counselors and volunteers.

Because Visiting Nurse is a locally based nonprofit agency, we provide care to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay for services. Reimbursement rates from Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance do not reflect the true cost of providing this important care.

Yet with the support of the community, we are able to care for patients in need.

In 2020, Visiting Nurse provided more than $200,000 in financial assistance to those with no other means to pay for their care. We appreciate the support shown to Hospice Home and Visiting Nurse through the years and look forward to many more years of caring for the area’s most seriously ill residents and their families.