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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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8/23/2014 11:41:00 PM
Northern Arizona Hospice opens residential facility in Cottonwood
Dr. Devin Mikles, medical director of the Northern Arizona Hospice, is silhouetted in front of the large picture window with a view at the new hospice facilities Friday during its dedication event in front of attendees. VVN/Vyto Starinskas
Dr. Devin Mikles, medical director of the Northern Arizona Hospice, is silhouetted in front of the large picture window with a view at the new hospice facilities Friday during its dedication event in front of attendees. VVN/Vyto Starinskas
Marguerite Lauri of Northern Arizona Hospice joins other attendees in a prayer at the end of the dedication of the Northern Arizona Hospice's Residential Facility. VVN/Vyto Starinskas
Marguerite Lauri of Northern Arizona Hospice joins other attendees in a prayer at the end of the dedication of the Northern Arizona Hospice's Residential Facility. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- It is admittedly a unique facility to be part of a hospital service, but the Northern Arizona Healthcare's Hospice Home was dedicated Friday before an enthusiastic crowd of donors, supporters and volunteers. The 12,000-square-foot, 10-bed copper-roofed facility has ample room for each patient with individual restrooms but also ample room for families of patients who visit.

The entire facility, located on Willard Street at the site of the original Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, tops the ridge that drops off to Old Town. Those spacious views from the hilltop vantage span the breadth of the verdant Verde River and stretch as far as the red rock cliffs in the distance and beyond. It is those stunning views that attracted the hospital to the property. Each patient's room has a share of that panorama.

Verde Valley Medical Center Board member Ron Barber opened the morning gathering saying that when he retires after 20 years on the hospital board, he will have seen a number of initiatives, but "nothing is more fulfilling than this facility."

Barber says it has always been the board's mission to provide service from birth through death. Now with the nursery at the top of the hospital's four-story tower and the Hospice Home, that mission is now completed

Both of his own parents and his brother had spent their final days in a hospice home but they were always "sterile' facilities and not welcoming. He wanted the Northern Arizona Hospice residence facility to be warmer and more comforting than those. "Because it can be a burden for the family to live out the patients final days. How nice it is to have a place to come to."

The VVMC Board member said there was a lot of administrative debate over the cost of a facility and that it just "didn't pencil out." He said "build it and they will come.'

The hospital's President and CEO Barbara Dember said she personally did not understand the meaning of hospice when her mother died. "This is a beautiful place for our loved ones to end their lives."

Mike Morefeld, whose partner Duane Ray designed the project, said the firm was asked to create a caring and loving environment, not just for the patient, but for the family, so that they could feel comfortable. The board also wanted to take advantage of the scenic views we have here but also to use the materials of the valley, the copper for the copper roof, the stone and stucco walls to give a feeling that the was a building was OF the Verde Valley not simply a building in the valley.

Richard Smith, vice President for Development and Marketing says the foundation will continue to be active. He said we need to build an endowment to support those patients who are not able to afford this care.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2014
Article comment by: Everything for profit

Not to pile on, but these comments nail it.

Pretty much everything the supposedly nonprofit VVMC/NAZ Healthcare does is designed to maximize profit.

And they do a really, really good job of it.

Which is why their net worth has exploded over the past decade, plowing right through the deepest economic recession in 80 years like it wasn't even there.

And although taxpayers didn't pay for this, you better believe the money came out of the backs of the people living in this significantly impoverished community.

One $75 band aid at a time.

Yes, this is a beautiful facility.

And yes, VVMC, we know: "Profits are our purpose".

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2014
Article comment by: Historically, Hospice Homes were developed To care for the dying without families.

But now it's looks like this medical model has been changed to serve only those who can afford it.

Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Article comment by: Please Ma, tell me that not everyone gets to use Hospice House ain't true!

Hospice House should be open to everyone, regardless of their ability to "afford" it. Northern Arizona Hospice website states:

"We never turn anyone away because of financial circumstances. We have been serving Sedona, the Village of Oak Creek, and the greater Verde Valley areas, as the only not-for-profit hospice organization, since 1984. Northern Arizona Hospice depends on your gifts to make this possible." But maybe this doesn't apply to the new Hospice House.

I supported the building of the Hospice House. I'll feel duped by VVMC if there are financial restrictions placed on Hospice House. According to VVMC "Medicare and Medicaid (AHCCCS) accounts for 75 percent of our patients at VVMC"

I assume Hospice House services, would include AHCCCS patients, private insurance/Medicare and any one else close to dying, regardless of their ability to pay. I also didn't realize that dying has been turned into a for profit business. Might be the next goose's golden egg business success. Resort like private Hospice Houses, complete with concierge services for family members.

Compassionate quote by Mother Teresa:
"Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work." And guess what! I'm not a bible thumper, I'm atheist. But Mother Teresa sure got it right on this one.

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Article comment by: AZ GIRL

10 patient beds. Along with ample space for families to stay while they visit. Room for wheelchairs, IV stands, gurneys and rolling beds. Room for families to spread out in a lovely, well appointed living area to enjoy a loved ones company for the last time, instead of being crammed into an ugly hospital or nursing facility's family room.
And, yes, Im sure its pricey. And if you can afford it, Im sure it is worth every penny. If you cant afford it, you will need to look at other options.
Really, the entiltled, negative and pessimistic comments here make me sad. This has the potential to be a great facility and make a huge difference to those who use it. It wasnt built with your tax dollars, and not everyone can afford everything. If you want to stay here, maybe you should save your pennies!

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Article comment by: An Admittedly Unique Facility

No question about it. "This IS a beautiful place for loved ones to end their lives."

Those who can afford it.

Meanwhile, a couple hundred yards away, down the hill and out of sight, those who cannot afford it continue to die (many without so much as air conditioning) in tiny little rusted out single wide 60's era mobile homes.

"We need to build an endowment for those who cannot afford it..."

Or we could simply have provided an affordable facility to care for those who need it most.

We could have. But we didn't. Pretty disgusting.

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Article comment by: sherry john

We agree 12000 square feet for a fancy 10 bed hospice is ridiculous. How much does it cost to put a parent into the facility? I suspect it is expensive to the max. Question, wouldn't it not make more sense to take care of those who need hospice with a building that accommodates the needy? The rich families who can afford this overbuild waste of space is testament to itself.

Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2014
Article comment by: Wonderful Accomplishment

Congrats to all involved in this much needed and beautiful facility.

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Article comment by: Call Me A Cynic But...

...a 12 THOUSAND sq foot facility with only 10 beds? Really? I mean...if patient rooms are 300 sq feet (a generous size room), that's still only 3,000 sq feet of living space. What are the other 9 THOUSAND sq feet being used for?

And how many administrator (as in...dead wood) offices are under this expensive copper roof? And how many administrators will be in them?

I am all for Hospice. Past experience with them has been very positive. But this building appears, on it's face, to be a giant waste of space...and resources.

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