11/08/10 — Hospice center on schedule for early 2011 opening date

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Hospice center on schedule for early 2011 opening date

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 8, 2010 1:48 PM

Construction on the Kitty Askins Hospice Center expansion project is expected to be completed prior to Christmas, and the facility should be ready to accept residents by late January or early February.

Fundraising efforts on the $4 million project stand at just under $3.1 million.

"As far as construction, we are pretty much down to the end," said Dean Lee, president and chief operating officer for Home Health and Hospice Care, which owns Kitty Askins. "We are getting to the point of painting and trim work and testing systems like the air conditioning and mechanical systems. We are real excited about that."

Once that work is completed, residents will be moved into the new facility so that the existing one can be renovated. That project will include new energy-efficient windows, new paint, wall coverings, flooring and furnishings.

Lee said the "whole reason" for expanding the facility was to eliminate the waiting list. To keep from making the waiting list worse, it was decided to hold off on renovating the existing facility until the new one was completed so that no rooms would be taken out of use.

The expansion will add 13,000 square feet to the facility and double its occupancy to 24 beds. Built in 1995, Kitty Askins had a 60-70 patient long waiting list in 2006. Now that number has tripled.

Lee said he and his staff want to make the move as stress-free as possible and to be sensitive to the needs of the residents and their families.

Once the renovations are completed, it will make for a seamless transition between the new facility and the existing one, he said.

The public phase of the fundraising is the "Fund a Foot" project in which people who donate $194 "pay for a square foot" of the new facility.

To date, the campaign has raised $48,000. However, a "significant number" of donors are still needed to raise the remaining $900,000, Lee said.

"It would be a good at the dedication to announce we have paid for this building," he said.

Other ongoing fundraising includes efforts by a Mount Olive committee of volunteers to come up with $100,000 for the center's new chapel, which will be named the Mount Olive Area Chapel.

As of last Thursday, $84,000 had been raised, said Norma Carole McDonald, committee chairman.

That campaign received a boost from Mount Olive area churches in October when they took up a special offering for the chapel project. Mrs. McDonald said that 25 churches participated. However, some churches had already scheduled events through the month and will hold their programs this month, she said.

"We are hoping we may come closer to (the goal)," she said. "So far, we have had a real good response. There are quite a few churches that have contributed. I am tickled to death."

The local faith-based initiative has gained the support of some 40 churches in the Mount Olive, Dudley, Seven Springs, Calypso and Faison communities. Participating churches will be recognized in the chapel.

Anyone who makes a donation for the chapel needs to ensure that it is designated for the Mount Olive Area Chapel, otherwise it will go into the project's general building fund, she said.

People may still pick up brochures about the local efforts at the Mount Olive First United Methodist Church on the corner of East James and North Center streets in Mount Olive.

The committee also is working on other projects related to the chapel, she said.

One includes a wooden cross surrounded by ceramic butterflies that may be purchased and inscribed in memory of someone for donations of $500, $1,000 or $1,500.

Cathy Fonvielle, a Kitty Askins volunteer, heads up the Mount Olive faith initiative group. Her father, the late C.C. Ivey Jr., was at Kitty Askins for 18 months.

"I can tell you it has been a true blessing working with such caring people as Norma Carole McDonald, Cathy Fonvielle and all of the others and the churches," Lee said.

Lee said the fact that the committee has raised so much of its goal clearly shows "how caring a community we live in."