By Jason Starr
The Colchester Sun
The Visiting Nurse Association is moving its hospice house from Williston to an undeveloped parcel along Route 7 near Main Street in Colchester.
The VNA is headquartered in Colchester, on Prim Road, and serves Chittenden and Grand Isle counties with home health and hospice care for people all ages and all abilities to pay. It has operated a 13-bed hospice house — the Vermont Respite House — in Williston for the past 25 years.
The VNA was gifted 25 acres for the project in the “Munson Flats” area of Colchester by REM Development, according to VNA Spokeswoman Nicole Haley. The nonprofit announced last week that the Green Mountain Care Board approved a Certificate of Need for the project. Ground-breaking is scheduled for this fall and the project is expected to be complete by the end of next summer, according to a VNA press release.
The new Vermont Respite House will have 21 beds with room to expand, Haley said.
“We have an increasing need,” she said. “The current site could not handle the expansion we needed.”
Hospice is a form of end-of-life care that focuses on emotional and spiritual support as well as pain and symptom management, foregoing curative procedures. It is offered in patients’ homes, in nursing homes and at hospitals. The Vermont Respite House is unique in that it provides a home-like setting for round-the-clock hospice care, giving people with homes that are not properly equipped for hospice an option that doesn’t involve a nursing home or hospital. The Vermont Respite House is the only Medicare-certified hospice home in the state, the press release says.
“Most people would rather be in a small home-like setting,” Haley said in an interview.
“It’s a lot different than the environment of a hospital or nursing home. It’s really set up like a home, and it’s a lot more of an intimate and personal approach.”
In addition to increasing capacity by eight beds, the new respite house will include larger resident rooms with space for family members to stay overnight; an improved kitchen; and meeting spaces for family members, staff and volunteers.
“Vermont Respite House has been a home away from home to people with terminal illness for nearly a quarter of a century,” VNA President Judy Peterson said in a press release. “In that time, we’ve seen the need for residential hospice services grow along with an aging population and heightened awareness of the benefits of hospice care. The new Respite House will allow us to respond to this increasing demand.”