One final Ohio Department of Health inspection scheduled within the next few weeks is all that stands between new beds at Kobacker House being ready for use by people needing hospice care.
A $4.8 million project to add eight more suites to Kobacker House is complete, bringing to 32 the number of beds at the facility off McConnell Drive in northwest Columbus.
That figure is the maximum number of beds permitted for the site.
The added beds will enable 400 more patients a year to receive hospice care there, according to Trish S. Cadwallader, chairwoman of the OhioHealth Hospice Development Board.
“That’s really significant,” Cadwallader said.
“I am ecstatic,” said Tina Null, director of hospice at Kobacker House since June 2015. “I felt like we’ve needed it since I arrived.”
“Operationally, there have been a lot of days we’re full and have to turn people away, and that doesn’t feel good,” said Christina King, administrative manager.
“We really do see ourselves as a community resource,” Null said. “We end up in a conundrum at times with limited beds.”
The $4.8 million for the expansion project, as well as $1.2 million to pay for operating the additional suites, was raised through donations, Cadwallader said.
The donors have gone through the new wing during an open house, as have members of the staff and volunteers who help with the hospice patients, Null said.
The staff members needed for the additional beds already have been hired, she said.
That includes nine new nurses, three aides and one social worker as well as people who work in nutrition and environmental services, King said.
The increase in beds won’t require the addition of a lot of new volunteers, Null said, because Kobacker House already has a long list of people willing to help with patients who have terminal diseases and their families, both at the facility and during home visits.
“We are continuously bringing on new classes of volunteers,” Null said. “We’ve currently got an army of 400 volunteers.”
In designing the new wing, Cadwallader said staff members offered suggestions based on experience gained working at the facility.
For example, the new wing has four family rooms, she said. They are smaller than rooms in the old wing, but there are more of them and they offer a more intimate setting. Also, each of the new rooms has a small refrigerator so family members don’t have to visit the kitchen in the wing as often, Cadwallader said.
The older section of Kobacker House eventually will be retrofitted to incorporate the improvements made in the new section, Null said.