Two years after its acquisition of the historic Holmes House in Medford, Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice is in the final stretch of its $4 million fundraiser and has hired an administrator to oversee the facility once renovations are complete.
Four weeks remain in the nonprofit’s fundraising period, with approximately $600,000 left to secure as final construction is completed at the Holmes Park House. As Executive Director Susan Hearn walked around the premises last week, subcontractors with Ausland Group were pouring cement, laying bricks and tile and spreading new soil in the garden area. The 1939 property is now a mix of old and new charm, with a new wing adjacent to the original house.
“It’s a really unique thing that we’re doing here,” Hearn said, standing at the front portico entrance that was recently made ADA-accessible with a concrete ramp. “We’re trying to meld historic design with the state requirements for a care facility.”
Although extensive modifications were necessary, Hearn said the beauty of the exterior grounds and certain details of the appearance and layout of the building lend themselves to a welcoming hospice care environment. One example she gave are the house’s original windows, set at heights amenable for people lying in beds or seated in wheelchairs to look out at the rolling hills of the valley or the Siskiyou peaks beyond.
“What’s important to people at the end of life is that their symptoms are managed, their family is close by, human touch, a sense of control, mental awareness, and that they’re not a burden,” she said.
The Holmes House was originally home to Harry Holmes, co-founder of Harry & David, who built the house in 1939. His son John donated more than 18 acres of the property in 1973 to the city of Medford, which led to creation of Holmes Park. The house, which sits on a separate parcel in the center of the park off Modoc Avenue in east Medford, was later owned by a local pathologist who built up and tended to the gardens. When he retired to Portland, he sold the lot to Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice in April 2016 for $1.3 million.
With the 5,723-square-foot addition, the home will have space for 12 patient rooms, but also includes places for families to spend time and even spend nights, as if they were at a home.
The organization estimates that 180 patients will be served by the facility each year, with an average stay of around 14 days.
Six of the beds are subsidized through a combination of funding from Medicaid and Care Oregon, charity care and the nonprofit’s Hospice Unique Boutique in Ashland. Patients or their families will pay to use the other six.
Randal Rieb, newly hired administrator for the house, will oversee the hospice’s operations in conjunction with a nurse manager.
Rieb, who relocated from Santa Barbara, California, said he has seen families feel disappointed by their loved ones’ end-of-life care in skilled nursing and memory care facilities.
“It leaves a lot to be desired,” he said. When he’s told some of the family members about the kind of in-house care that Holmes House will provide, he said, nearly everyone has told him, “I would have preferred that.”
Hospice care will be provided by employees from Asante, Providence and other local hospitals, Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice employees will include certified medical aids, a chef and housekeeper.
Hearn said volunteers will also play a key role in running the house, as they have with the Unique Boutique. Resident support volunteers have undergone more than 30 hours of training to prepare for caring for families. The organization is also looking for volunteers to help with meals. All volunteers who want to work at the house will be required to go through the nonprofit’s 10-hour training on culture and values.
Visitors will get a chance to walk through the renovated property at open houses scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 12 and 13.
For more information, call 541-500-8911, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see https://sofriendsofhospice.org.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at email@example.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.