W.Va. Hospice sets sights on $8.5 million complex

November 17, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

BOLIVAR, W.Va. -- G.T. Schramm told of a young father of two, just 30 years old and dying of cancer. He was in such pain near the end that his children were not able to even touch him and he was not able to hug them.

"He could only blow them kisses," said Schramm, chairman of the board of Hospice of the Panhandle Inc.

Schramm, speaking at a Hospice fundraiser and auction Monday at the Anvil Restaurant on Washington Street, said if the organization had an inpatient facility, the young man could have spent his last days in less pain. "He would have been able to hug his children."

Schramm, a volunteer at Hospice for more than 20 years, has harbored a dream of an inpatient facility for years. 

Monday's event moved that dream a giant step forward when it was announced that a $100,000 donation was being made by Charles Town Races & Slots.


The money, which will come in over the next five years, goes toward a proposed $8.5 million combination 14-bed inpatient facility and consolidated office complex. They would be built on 19 acres on W.Va. 9 on the Berkeley/Jefferson county line across from the Food Lion grocery store. Hospice signed a contract for the land this summer.

Both would be built in Jefferson County because Medicare and Medicaid, which provide the lion's share of Hospice's overall $13 million annual budget, pays the agency 12 percent more per day than they do in Berkeley County, said Maria Lorensen, development director for Hospice.

The gift was announced by Phyllis LeTart, vice president of legal and business affairs at Charles Town Races & Slots. She is also a member of the Hospice board of directors.

The track's pledge is the largest gift to date for its $3 million "Building the Dream" fundraising campaign for the inpatient facility and office space. It will be added to the $265,000 in pledges that have already come in.

Margaret Cogswell, Hospice CEO, said the remaining funds needed to build both facilities will be borrowed from local lending institutions and from proceeds from the sale of the agency's headquarters building at 122 Waverly Court in Martinsburg, one of five buildings Hospice maintains in its four-county operation. 

It takes in patients from Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan and Hampshire counties.

Hospice of the Panhandle Inc., one of the oldest in West Virginia, was incorporated in 1980.

The number of patients it provides care for grows each year, according to information provided by the agency.

In 2007, it cared for 140 patients at any given time. This month it was up to 242 patients.

Last year, Hospice added 56 new employees for a total now of 140 nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains and administrative staff plus more than 260 volunteers.

Schramm said ground will be broken when they reach the $3 million plateau.

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