Ames House opens, offers tranquil setting for hospice care

Engraved bricks line the Tribute Walk behind the Ames House.

The new Ames Family Hospice House began accepting the first phase of patient transfers on Monday, June 25, just over one year after construction began on the Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Westlake facility.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house were held June 22 and 23, where local officials, volunteers, donors, staff and members of the community got a first look at the building’s home-like environment and state-of-the-art technology.

The Ames House was meticulously designed with terminally-ill patients, as well as their families and caregivers, in mind. An aura of tranquility permeates the 30-acre property, indoors and out, beginning with the winding, tree-lined driveway leading from Crocker Road to the modern, multicolored brick building, nestled in a wooded lot.

“When you come in, it’s home,” said Jena Olsen, Western Reserve communications coordinator.

The front entryway, flanked by a cozy lounge on one side and a full kitchen for caregivers and volunteers on the other, opens into a large great room with a cathedral ceiling and two-story windows. Twin hallways form a ring around the building, lined with patient rooms, expressive therapy rooms with art supplies and musical instruments, screened-in porches and patios. A meditation room can accommodate small wedding ceremonies, baptisms and other religious services.

Olsen explained that all of the common areas and rooms are designed to allow for hospital beds to be rolled in and out, so patients have full access to the house’s amenities.

“There are no barriers here,” she said. “All of the furniture can be moved and rearranged to meet anyone’s needs.”

The building’s architects incorporated suggestions from registered nurses, patients and caregivers into the layout of the 32-bed, 40,000-square-foot facility. Items frequently needed for patient care – fresh linens and towels, for example – are stored in small closets in or near patient rooms, allowing for quick and easy access by aides and caregivers. En suite bathrooms feature roll-in showers and offset mirrors (for those wishing to avoid seeing their reflection when washing up at the sink). Oxygen tanks and medical equipment are hidden out of sight behind sliding framed paintings.

Each patient room has hospital beds that can be lowered to near-ground level to prevent injurious falls, as well as chairs and a Murphy bed for family members, patio doors, ceiling fans and web-based video screens for communicating with out-of-town relatives. Respite rooms and alcoves for visitors offer pullout chairs and couches, televisions and patio access.

The dedication of Western Reserve to anticipating the needs of terminal patients and their families is most evident in the attention to detail. Soft glowing night lights illuminate bedrooms and bathrooms to ease nighttime fears. The “spa” room has a warming cabinet for towels and a tub that can be raised up to patients who don’t like the feeling of being lowered. A secluded corridor off the main hallway leads to a side door, affording privacy to family members making their final exit from the building.

As part of Hospice of the Western Reserve’s commitment to implement sustainable practices, the outdoor landscaping incorporates bioswales, drainage channels that purify surface runoff water before it enters Porter Creek. Native wetlands have been preserved and the organization is working toward LEED Silver certification for the Ames House property.

The house accepts patients of all ages, pediatric to geriatric, who have a doctor’s order and a terminal diagnosis of less than six months. The cost of the stay is usually covered through private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, although Western Reserve does not deny care to uninsured patients.

The Ames Family Hospice House complements Western Reserve’s David Simpson Hospice House in Euclid and Hospice Care Center in Olmsted Township. A $10 million gift from Chuck and Jay Ames, as well as significant contributions from the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Foundation and Susan and Jack Turben, were instrumental in bringing the facility to Westlake.

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Volume 4, Issue 13, Posted 10:20 AM, 06.26.2012