Stained glass lends serenity to new hospice

When the Visiting Nurse Association decided to develop a hospice center at its main headquarters, officials wanted it to include a quiet area where patients and families could pray or contemplate the end of life.

"We wanted it to be nondenominational, but with some spiritual feature," said VNA Executive Director Cissy Kraft. After discussing the idea with architect Charline Buente, the hospice decided on a stained-glass window as the focal point for a meditation room.

Kraft next turned to former VNA board member Harry Thompson for help. Thompson, 86, served on the VNA board for 15 years before retiring five years ago. His daughter, Sue Morrison, owns Sunburst Stained Glass Co. in Newburgh.

Kraft asked Thompson and Morrison to donate a stained-glass window.

"When Cissy decided she wanted a window, we didn't have any choice," laughed Thompson. "She's a bulldog," he joked.

The window was installed as finishing touches were being made at The Hospice Center. Carole Mattingly, the VNA director of corporate services, said the center will begin accepting patients around Dec. 1.

The center has seven private patient rooms with private baths and will be able to accommodate 250 patients a year. Each room has double glass doors that open to a veranda and a garden featuring a water fountain and a sitting area with a carousel horse.

Family members will be able to stay in the patient rooms or relax in a separate family area that includes two family rooms, a children's activity room, a fully-equipped kitchen and a laundry room. They will also be able to come and go through a separate family entrance.

Kraft said a construction fund drive, lead by VNA volunteer Andy Goebel, has raised more than 85 percent of the $1.5 goal. She said donations are still being accepted for a $1 million endowment fund to pay for continuous operations.

Hospice services provide a coordinated team to assist dying patients with a full realm of services, including grief counseling.

Typically, hospice services are provided at patients' homes. But more facilities are providing inpatient hospice services. Medicare provides coverage for hospice care, but some patients may not have a caregiver at home and may require 24-hour care, too. The VNA center will offer that to its patients.

A team designs individual care plans to support both the families and the patients. Services are available to the family up to one year after a patient's death. Patients must have a limited life expectancy of six months or less.

The stained glass window will be one peaceful addition to the new center, officials said Monday.

"It's just going to be a wonderful addition to the community and a wonderful opportunity for patients that are facing a terminal illness," Kraft said. "It's not home. It can't be home, but we're trying to make it as homelike and respectful of life as possible."

Morrison had few limitations on her creation and was allowed to use any portion of a wall 15 feet long by 8 feet tall. She designed a window based on a theme that follows the life cycle of a flowering amaryllis bulb to reflect the changes people go through from birth to death.

"The theme of this unit is transition, so I wanted to come up with something that would carry out that theme," Morrison said. "I was going to do it on a small portion of the wall, but it just kept on growing as I was thinking, so we ended up with a landscape."

Morrison said she spent around seven hours designing a window that would take up most of the wall. It took 18 hours to cut 477 individual pieces of glass, donated by Kokomo Opalescent Glass of Kokomo, Ind.

Morrison said nine volunteers - current employees of Sunburst Stained Glass and former students - worked three nights a week and Sundays for more than four weeks to finish the six-panel window valued at $12,000.

The project was completed Monday when Morrison, Thompson and three glass company employees installed the window at the new VNA Hospice Center.

"It will be lit by natural light during the day," Morrison said. "At night, they will keep the indoor lighting dim with lighting on the other side so it will glow at night."

600450 Stained glass lends serenity to new hospice
Date: 8 November 2003

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