After receiving a deed for an additional one acre of property on East Grady Street, Ogeechee Area Hospice is planning to expand its current facility from 12 to 25 beds.
Bulloch County Commissioners voted in October to transfer property to Ogeechee Area Hospice following a request by Executive Director Nancy Bryant and hospice board member Richard Mellett. Ogeechee Area Hospice was founded in 1994 and it is the only not-for-profit hospice serving Bulloch and surrounding counties. The current facility was built in 2004 and opened in 2005 on the west end of the property where the old Bulloch Memorial Hospital once sat.
"Although 92 percent of our care to patients takes place in homes, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, our current 12 inpatient beds are often occupied to capacity with patients that require intense bedside care," Bryant. said.
The property represents a portion of the adjoining tract owned by Bulloch County. The acre of land extends 150 feet into the county's remaining parcel. Commissioners voted unanimously on the resolution and commended Ogeechee Area Hospice for its service to the community. The only stipulation is that the hospice remains non-profit or it would owe the present market value of the property.
"We thoroughly intend on maintaining our non-profit mission," Mellett said.
Bryant said the hospice has seen a growing need in the community for an expanded facility.
"Many of our residents find themselves in hospitals around the region, when symptoms of their illness are acute and their prognosis is very short; yet the family wants them out of the hospital environment and close to home," she said. "Although the inpatient facility is equipped and ready to care for patients with high intensity, short term needs, there is a growing need to accommodate individuals under hospice care with less intense needs yet can no longer be safely cared for in their own home."
In the expansion, Bryant said the design for residential rooms would be similar to current rooms and would accommodate patients with terminal illness who need 24-hour supervision, yet may have weeks to live.
Also, a new conference/community room would accommodate activities that surround hospice's mission
"For example, we now have 70 employees and 75 volunteers who need meeting space," Bryant said. "Our support groups, children's camp and workshops for the community are also expanding."
Bryant said the new residential unit would not take the place of assisted living facilities. Residents of assisted living facilities must have the capability to walk independently or with an assistive device.
"Most of our hospice patients that would need this type of care would not have this capability," she said. "We intend to maintain our relationship with these excellent facilities, as well as with area nursing homes."
Bryant said she expects hospice to move briskly with the planning. The opening for the expansion could be as soon as summer 2012, she said.