ROCKPORT, Maine — Patience and perseverance paid off for Pen Bay Healthcare as a hospice house planned for nearly a decade has finally gotten off the drawing board.
A crowd gathered under blue skies Sunday afternoon to turn the first shovels of dirt for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new facility, which is estimated to cost between $1.8 million and $2.1 million.
Joanne Billington, chair of the Pen Bay Healthcare Foundation Board, talked about her family’s experience last year when her mother suffered from and ultimately succumbed to cancer.
“We would have given our eye teeth to have had a hospice house,” Billington said.
The house to be built will provide a place with 24-hour care that will allow people to spend the final time of their lives in a comfortable setting, Billington said.
The Rev. Walden Chandler said the facility will provide a place of comfort and support for patients, families and staff.
Kno-Wal-Lin Home Health and Hospice Executive Director Donna DuBlois said in addition to staff being present 24 hours per day, volunteers also will contribute to the hospice house by greeting visitors and cooking. She said the hospice house will complete the continuum of care that Pen Bay offers.
The plan calls for a 9,740-square-foot building on the northwest corner of the 63-acre Pen Bay campus. The hospice would initially feature seven beds but be designed to allow for expansion to 14 beds. There will be 21 paved parking spaces with room for 10 additional ones.
The house is expected to open next summer.
Pen Bay has considered building a hospice center for several years and had received approval from the Rockland Planning Board in 2007 to construct a $2 million, 10,000-square-foot facility on Pleasant Street in Rockland next to the Kno-Wal-Lin home health and hospice office building. The City Council approved a zone change to allow the hospice to locate there.
The recession, however, nixed plans for construction of the center at that time.