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Health Team

New Hospice to Help Terminally Ill End Life With Dignity

Posted November 26, 2007 5:13 p.m. EST
Updated November 26, 2007 6:52 p.m. EST

When a terminal illness slowly takes a life, families desire a death with dignity. A new hospice home in Durham will fill that need for special in-patient care for nine area counties.

"Dying with dignity and having pleasant last days and weeks of your life is extremely important," Gary Hock, a Durham developer, said.

Hock said he remembers that the hospice care his mother received in the autumn of her life helped her end come without pain or misery. That motivated him to help Duke Health System build a new $2.7-million inpatient hospice care facility.

"Hospice actually provides the emotional, psycho-social, physical needs of the patient as they're facing a life-limited terminal illness," Starr Browning, a registered nurse and executive director of Duke Hospice services, said.

Most hospice patients and families receive care from specially trained nurses, social workers and even chaplains in the comfort of their own homes.

"But there comes a time when possibly the patient can't be managed in the home any longer," Browning said.

That was the case of Billie Hall's husband, who received hospice care from Duke. "It's just unbelievable how they take care of patients, the compassion they have for the families," she said.

But to visit her husband, Hall had to drive 20 minutes to a six-bed hospice facility in Hillsborough.

"We frequently aren't able to admit patients to that facility, because there's such a great need in our community as the population ages," Browning said.

Duke's new 12-bed facility will help meet provide a home away from home at the close of life for in a nine-county area. Construction was scheduled to begin in December, and the facility should open its doors in January 2009.

It will be located next to the Teer House, a Duke center for community education.