Legacy announces it will close Hopewell House Hospice
The spacious home in the wooded hills of Southwest Portland where hundreds of dying patients have spent their final days for the last 28 years is now itself nearing the end of its existence as Legacy Hopewell Hospice House.
Legacy Health Systems has announced it will close the facility at 6171 S.W. Capitol Highway on Sept. 30. Patients living with life-threatening illnesses have been receiving end-of-life care at Hopewell since 1987.
At one time in the 1990s, every one of 15 rooms available for patients was occupied, and there was a waiting list. According to Brian Terrett, public relations director with Legacy, there are currently just two or three patients at Hopewell on any given day. There are rooms for 11 patients.
"It's unfortunate that we're going to have to close the facility," Terrett said. "It was a pretty tough decision, but given the trends we're seeing, it's inevitable. The big factor is so few patients.
"People are just choosing to go a different route. Home hospice has become so effective people are choosing to spend their final days at home with their families, surrounded by loved ones," he said.
Some are making that choice themselves; others are having the choice to die at home made for them.
"The criteria for being admitted has changed," said Terrett. "Fewer and fewer patients are qualifying for admission to an in-patient hospice."
Terrett said the federal government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have decided to, over time, "make adjustments in how they are going to pay for healthcare."
He added, "What happens is, that has a ripple effect down the line. So oftentimes, within a number of years, insurers will follow those same criteria."
Patients seeking in-patient hospice care whose insurance will cover the cost will be admitted to one of Legacy's six hospitals.
Hopewell Hospice House was established in 1987 to care for terminal cancer and AIDS patients. It closed its doors less than four years later for lack of funding, but in 1991, it was taken over by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and reopened.
For the next two decades, Hopewell Hospice House was often full to capacity. But funding was always a challenge.
In July 1992, an emergency fundraising drive raised $40,000 to keep the doors open, but by December of that year, donors were informed of a $150,000 deficit. The Collins Foundation of Oregon stepped forward with multiple donations of $100,000.
Sometime around the turn of the millennium — Terrett isn't sure exactly when — Legacy Health Systems took over through its Visiting Nurses Association.
Hopewell Hospice House was originally just called Hospice House. It was established in a home donated by the Henningsen Cold Storage Co., a refrigerated warehousing and shipping company that is based in Hillsboro.
In a letter to donors, K. Rena Whittaker of the Good Samaritan Foundation wrote that there are no current plans for the facility.
"Over the next year, we will continue to carefully evaluate how Hopewell House can best be used to serve our community," Whittaker wrote.
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