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Ground to be broken next week on Hospice of the Panhandle's new facility

Campaign gets financial boost from Jefferson County Commission

June 05, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Ceremonial shovels digging into the dirt of a vacant field on the Jefferson, Berkeley County line on June 13 will signal the start of construction for Hospice of the Panhandle Inc.’s $11.5 million, 14-bed inpatient facility and office complex.

The campaign, which began 3 1/2 years ago, got a boost last week when the Jefferson County Commission agreed to funnel $6 million in bank qualified, tax-exempt commercial development revenue bonds to the project. Berkeley County officials did the same earlier in the amount of $2 million.

The commissions’ actions will mean lower interest rates for hospice.

Margaret Cogswell, the hospice’s chief executive officer, said the organization has secured a local bank’s commitment for $8 million. The rest of the cost will come from donations and the sale of some of the four properties hospice already owns, including three in Berkeley County and one in Jefferson County.

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Jefferson County Commissioner Dale Manuel said the board approved the request because the facility is “greatly needed in the Eastern Panhandle. Hospice helps a great many people, including my own case with my grandmother.”

“It was the right thing to do,” Commissioner Walt Pellish said. “We support the effort and good work that they do, and the people they serve.”

About 70 percent of the new facility will lie in Jefferson County. The inpatient facility will cover 23,000 square feet and the office complex 28,000 square feet, Cogswell said.

Hospice handles an average of 200 patients a day from Morgan, Berkeley, Jefferson and Hampshire counties, the majority of whom are taken care of in their own homes, Cogswell said.

The inpatient facility will care for those without home care. It also will provide family caregivers respite from the constant care of loved ones.

The average stay in hospice care is about three months, although a third are under care for a month or less.

The agency’s $12 million annual budget, among other expenses, covers the salaries of 120 paid employees, who are augmented by more than 200 volunteers.

About 80 percent of hospice’s income comes from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance.

“No one is ever turned down for lack of funds,” Cogswell said. “That’s why we need the continued support form the community.”

Hospice first opened its doors in the Panhandle 35 years ago.

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