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Donnell House Celebrates 10th Anniversary
By Lois Thomson

Donnell House

Thanks to a woman whose father received special hospice care in Ohio, Washington has one of the finest hospice facilities in the area: the Donnell House. Associated with Hospice Care of The Washington Hospital, Donnell House has eight private rooms and offers both inpatient care and respite for caregivers in a home-like setting. Sally Stitt, Executive Director of Hospice, said, "The idea was to have a facility that was home-like, not institutional looking. I like to think of it as a beautiful home with eight private rooms with private baths. It's very comfortable for patients and their families. Not only does the facility have the medical equipment and personnel needed to care for patients, but it was also designed with comfort areas such as a great room, a day room, and a family kitchen."

Donnell House is the only stand-alone inpatient hospice facility in Washington, Greene and Fayette counties. Stitt said inpatient care is "for patients who have symptoms that are out of control and whose needs have to be medically managed, whether it's pain, nausea, or agitation." Of the patients who come to Donnell House for such care, she said, "We empower them to be in charge of their care, to let them live what time they have left with their loved ones. We manage their symptoms, support families, and honor their wishes."

Not all hospices have inpatient care, and Donnell House has such an excellent reputation that it has contracts with other area hospices to use the facility for their inpatient and respite needs. Part of that reputation comes from feedback. Stitt states, "Our patients and families have wonderful experiences, and we receive a lot of comments with how welcoming, comfortable and home-like our facility is. It's like night-and-day from a hospital. It's much quieter, more intimate, low-key—it's a different atmosphere."

Donnell House is also a respite for caregivers. Using Stitt's example, if a husband isn't able to travel due to his hospice care needs but the wife wants to go to Michigan for their daughter's wedding, she can reserve up to five days of respite care for her husband while she's gone.

Donnell House is celebrating its 10th anniversary in January 2012. Richard Mahoney, Executive Director of Foundation for The Washington Hospital, said the hospital determined in 1996 that there was a need for hospice care in our community. At that time Mahoney met with Dick and Shana Donnell and found out they had a passion for hospice. "Shana's father was in a hospice facility in Ohio and it made an impact on her," he said. "They felt our community could use such a facility and a gift was given toward the endeavor."

That gift from Shana and Dick Donnell was $1 million. Mahoney said the community raised an additional $2.2 million, and the facility opened in January 2002.

For more information, call (724) 250-4561 or visit www.washingtonhospital.org.

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