Officials call it a 30-year dream come true during preview

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 30, 2012

SALISBURY — In 1951, Langston Hughes asked in a poem what happens to a dream deferred. It took Rowan County 30 years to get a hospice facility, but now the dream is no longer deferred.

The Glenn A. Kiser Hospice House is named in honor of longtime pediatrician and philanthropist Dr. Glenn Kiser. Kiser died in 2009. His wife, Muriel, died in 2007. Both left significant gifts to the Rowan Regional Medical Center Foundation. The Foundation board and hospital board decided to name the facility after Kiser to not only honor his legacy, but pay tribute to his contributions to the community.

The 14-bed facility, located at 1229 Statesville Blvd., is the first in Rowan County.

The Hospice House is a part of the Rowan Hospice & Palliative Care, which is a collaboration of Rowan Regional Medical Center and Hospice & Palliative CareCenter. Palliative CareCenter of Winston-Salem was the first hospice in the state. Palliative CareCenter CEO Brian Payne was also at the facility.

“It takes all of us to make this work,” Payne said.

Officials from the Rowan facility toured the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice in Winston-Salem. There were parts of the layout of the Winston-Salem facility that appealed to the Rowan County officials. The Rowan facility isn’t exactly like the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice, but there are similarities.

Members of the media were invited Thursday for a preview of the new facility. Board members and others instrumental in the establishment of the hospice facility attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony later.

The public is invited to a community-wide grand opening celebration Sunday of the Glenn A. Kiser Hospice House. Anyone is welcome to drop in, meet the staff and take a tour of the facility. Refreshments will be served. Parking with shuttle service will be available at Milford Hills Baptist Church, 1238 East Colonial Drive.

The facility is not open, but officials say after a few assessments, they expect a December or January opening.

“We will be the perfect host for those facing their final journey ’til the last leaf falls from their tree of life,” said Tippie Miller, member of the Rowan Hospice House Steering Committee.

Miller said she remembers years ago when the idea was being discussed to establish a hospice house in Rowan County. Miller said she gets emotional at just knowing the dream she and others in the community had has come true.

Other steering committee members on hand Thursday included chairwoman Libby Gish and Harold Earnhardt.

In the mid-1990s Rowan Regional Medical Center obtained Hospice of Rowan County and operated as Rowan Regional Hospice. However, the dream was always to have a freestanding facility.

In 2007, Rowan Regional obtained a certificate of need to build a 14-bed hospice inpatient facility and a year later the planned facility was put on hold with the downturn of the economy.

In 2009, planning resumed on an inpatient facility.

Rowan Regional President Dari Caldwell gave an overview of the project for those gathered.

“I’m excited this day has finally come,” Caldwell said.

This project was one of the first projects she began when she was named president.

The funding for the $6.5 million project came largely from community funds raised through the hospital foundation’s capital campaign. The foundation has raised more than $5.8 million toward the goal. Novant Health has pledged to match an individual gift of $25,000 or more. The campaign will fund 100 percent of the house’s construction, furnishings and landscaping.

“We feel very sure we will get our goal,” Caldwell said.

The Hospice House is located less than a mile from the hospital.

The various committees and officials with a hand in the design of the facility, down to color of the walls, had future patients in mind, said Edwina Ritchie, director of the Rowan Hospice House.

There are windows throughout the Hospice House, designed to let lots of natural light indoors. Each private room is designed for both the patient and the family.

The rooms are wheelchair accessible and have oversized chairs that open to a twin bed for overnight accommodations. The French doors in some of the rooms are even large enough for a patient to take their bed onto the patio. The doors also lock for the patients safety.

The paint colors — blue robin’s egg blue and light green, provide a calming effect.

The focal point of the entrance is a tree sculpture created by local artist Sue Landerman. The tree symbolizes strength, longevity, endurance, resilience and honor.

Landerman’s art isn’t the only on display in the facility. All of the art in the building was created and donated by local artists. The facility also includes a sitting room, two sunrooms, a children’s room, two family rooms, a spa room and two nurses stations.

The property has room for expansive gardens and walking trails as well as a decorative pond. There is room for an additional 11-bed expansion, which will eventually take the facility to 25 beds.

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Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.