I recently had the pleasure of participating in a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with Steve Richard, President/CEO, SUN Home Health and Hospice and otherstakeholders, for a new hospice center located within the Sunbury Hospital. USDA Rural Development awarded Sun Home Health Services, Inc. $99,500 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Rural Business Enterprise Grant funding to create a six-bed inpatient hospice unit within the hospital. Terminally ill cancer patients in Central Pennsylvania now have an alternative to travelling 30–150 miles to an urban area for short-term in-patient hospice care.
I was pleasantly surprised by the homelike atmosphere of the unit. Unlimited family visitation, where even small pets are allowed, and comfortable surroundings create a special place where patients and families can continue to receive the special care of hospice.
For instance, the first patient, admitted on October 8, 2009, was able to remain in a home like setting while professionals provided advanced symptom management and pain control in the new unit. Like many other terminally ill cancer patients, he has chosen hospice care so that he can remain in his home and close to family members. He was able to receive a higher level of care when it was needed, close to home, and then return home quickly.
It is anticipated that over 200 patients and their families will receive services annually for a brief period of time while they need special services at the end of life’s journey. Prior to the opening of Sun Home Health Care Center, the closest in-patient hospice facilities were too far away for a terminally ill patient wishing to be close to his home and family.
SUN Home Health and Hospice has been serving the community since 1969 and began providing hospice care in 1981 as part of its comprehensive community health mission. During that time the organization’s team of healthcare professionals and community volunteers have touched the lives of thousands of individuals and families. I am very proud that USDA Rural Development was able to financially support this much needed inpatient hospice care unit in Pennsylvania.