Spectrum opens connected room for families, end-of-life patients

REED CITY — When Betty Gawne’s husband, Steve, passed away two years ago, she slept on the chair in his hospital room at Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital. She recalls eight family members coming in and out of his room, staying for a period of time, then leaving so as not to crowd the room. “I really didn’t want to move him back home as sick as he was,” Gawne said. “The room was a little small, but we managed.” To give families like Gawne’s more privacy and aid them in consoling their loved ones near the end of life, Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital created a Palliative Care Suite. The room is a connected patient room and family room, complete with a television, two arm chairs, a couch and sleeper sofa for families to stay with their loved ones in private quarters. “This really was a labor of love. This was born out of the need for families of end-of-life patients to have a private place to stay,” said Sam Daugherty, SHRCH CEO. “Now, when people who are the family of a hospice patient want private time, they’ll have that in this room.” The project started two years ago after being submitted as an idea from hospital staff. It later also gained support by families in the community. The staff’s goal was to raise $15,000 through staff donations, with the hospital adding funds to complete the project, but the goal was surpassed and $42,000 was raised. The money paid for new furniture, fixtures and a renovation of the room to include a doorway between the patient and family rooms. When Gawne heard from her daughter-in-law, who works at SHRCH, that the hospital staff was fundraising for Palliative Care Suite, she couldn’t help but join in on the effort. “This room is certainly something needed because for family of patients who are terminally ill, any little thing that can brighten your life certainly is wanted,” Gawne said. She donated to the room in her husband’s honor, as a way to help other families in the future. “I felt like I was really a part of this,” Gawne said.” It means a lot to me.” The suite can seat five family members comfortably, and two or three can sleep in the room. Other arrangements can be made with hospital staff if more family members need a space as well, said Christy Carlson, development director for SHRCH. “Before, families would be in the lobby or in the (patient) room, “Carlson said. “This room gives them a private place.” Prior to becoming the Palliative Care Suite, the two rooms were patient care rooms in the hospital. The renovation and conversion does not mean a loss of space for regular patients in the hospital, Daugherty said. “If we have an overflow and this room is available, it can be used for (regular patients) as well,” he said. The hospital plans to add more artwork to the walls of the room before opening it for families in the next few weeks.