Maryland-based Gilchrist Hospice Care will soon open the doors of a new $ 15.3 million residential hospice care facility in Baltimore. The William L. and Victorine Q. Adams Gilchrist Center Baltimore will provide inpatient and respite care to the area’s most disadvantaged and underserved patients at the end of their life.
Construction of the center was supported by philanthropic dollars, community donors and a $ 1.5 million commitment from the State of Maryland. The center will admit patients from late October and early November. The 30,000 square foot center spans 1.5 acres at Stadium Place, a 30-acre housing community for low-income seniors. The two-story hospice facility has 18 private adult suites and four pediatric suites, each with an en-suite bathroom, storage space, and guest space.
The new location replaces Gilchrist’s old hospice, Joseph Richey House, which has provided care for over 30 years. The decision to rebuild and relocate came with the region’s growing need for hospice palliative care, according to Catherine Hamel, president of Gilchrist Center Baltimore and executive vice president of Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
“The people we serve at Gilchrist Center Baltimore are people who for some reason don’t have a home. We are covering the cost of this care to the tune of approximately $ 1.4 million per year, ”Hamel told Hospice News. “We are sitting at a time in history when the number of seniors is increasing daily in a way we have never seen before. We want to be able to continue to serve the community as the aging population continues to change. “
Almost 8% of seniors in Maryland lived below the 2018 poverty line, which was $ 11,880 per year in 2018, according to the US Census Bureau. Baltimore City is home to the highest percentage of the state’s total population living below the federal poverty line, according to a report by Marylanders Against Poverty.
The center offers palliative care services and room and board for dying patients, regardless of their ability to pay. About 70% of the centre’s patients live below Baltimore City’s median family income, according to the hospice provider, with many patients being homeless, drug and alcohol addicts and with behavioral health issues.
The center aims to work within the senior community to provide residents with a “true continuum of care,” according to Hamel.
Established in 1994, Gilchrist provides home and residential hospice care to approximately 950 patients each year in central Maryland. The association has three hospices in Towson, Howard County and Baltimore.
Maryland is a state certificate of need where demographics are fueling a growing demand for hospice. People aged 60 and over will make up about 22% of the state’s population by 2030, a 26% jump from 2012, according to projections by the US Census Bureau. In Baltimore alone, people aged 65 and over make up 13.6% of the population.
Palliative care use among those who died from Medicare in Maryland reached 47.6% in 2018, nearing the national average of 50.7% that year, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization ( NHPCO). Utah ranked first that year with a 60.5% hospice utilization rate.
The center also aims to bridge racial gaps in the use of hospice care, particularly among the African-American community in Baltimore, according to Shannon Wollman, philanthropy manager at the Gilchrist Center Baltimore.
“The African American community is the most demographic in Baltimore, and we are building strong relationships with many influencers: local hospitals, religious leaders, community leaders and local elected officials to promote the use of hospice care,” Wollman said. “One of our biggest challenges is the length of stay. We truly hope that by becoming stronger members of the community as Gilcrist grows its relationship in town with our new center, we can bring all of our services into the family patient care experience much earlier.
Racial disparities in hospice care are not limited to Baltimore. Nationally, about 82% of those who died from Medicare who elected a hospice in 2018 were Caucasian, while just over 8% were African American, according to the NHPCO.
Gilchrist plans to save the state of Maryland more than $ 6 million in health care costs each year by caring for underserved and homeless populations, according to Wollman.
“Our goal is to keep these patients who are mostly underserved or homeless, and to give them a place to die with dignity, to prevent them from going to the hospital, to prevent them from going to the emergency room. or die on the streets, ”Wollman told Hospice News.
The center includes a pediatric wing with a children’s playroom, kitchen, dining and living room, family gathering areas, consulting rooms, several nursing stations, a chapel and a conference room. The therapeutic services offered include music therapy and a sensory room with audio and visual elements for meditation and reflection. Grieving counseling is also available.
The Gilchrist Center Baltimore also serves as a hub for the provider’s interdisciplinary care teams, according to Hamel. The facility provides a central space for staff to collaborate. The ability to grow and house more staff and patients was a big factor in the decision to build Hamel, Hospice News said.
“We are on the verge of adding eight more beds and we may also add more home care teams in this neighborhood,” Hamel said. “An important part when we were thinking about how to construct the building was what we will need in the future, and so it is scaled up to be able to take more care of it over time. “