Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

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A Place to Live OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home Focuses on Quality of Life


By Sara Browning

Known as the ideal home away from home
for patients facing terminal illnesses, the OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice
Home provides individuals a place to receive the greatest care and

It’s not what patients and families would expect from a
hospice home. It’s better. Providing optimum medical attention in the
spirit of Christ-like compassion, the OSF Richard L. Owen’s Hospice Home
provides help, hope, and healing while strengthening relationships
between patients and loved ones. The home is located near the OSF Center
for Health at 8360 N. Illinois Route 91 in Peoria.

“This home
is not just about taking care of patients. It’s about taking care of
their entire family,” says Felicia Schafer, Executive Director of the
OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home whose involvement with home health,
and hospice spans 25 years. “As I became more involved with hospice, I
realized this is exactly where I am supposed to be.”

The impetus
of the home’s creation is rooted in the generosity and charitable
spirit of Richard L. Owens and his wife, Hootie. Richard was a
successful entrepreneur who was also an OSF lung cancer patient. He
passed away peacefully with his family and friends in his Peoria
residence with the help of OSF hospice care. Following Richard’s passing
in 2003 and before her own death in 2010, Hootie continued the family
tradition of giving, pledging $2 million to help build the OSF Richard
L. Owens Hospice Home.

The first hospice home in Central
Illinois and only the fourth hospice home in the state, the facility,
which received its first patient on March 11, 2013, is a welcome
blessing, especially because Illinois ranks 49 out of 50 states in the
provision of end-of-life care.

“This facility fills a tremendous
need,” says Donna Medina, Vice President of Hospice and Foundation for
OSF Home Care Services. “It fits the Mission of the Sisters of St.
Francis. And, like the Sisters, we should feel just as privileged to
birth patients into the next world as birth them into this one.”

Donna’s involvement in hospice care stems from her own experiences as a
young adult. At the tender age of 22 years, she watched her own mother
die from pancreatic and liver cancer. “I pronounced my own mother dead. I
never want someone else to have to go through what I went through
alone. Because of my own experience, I am able to look at hospice not
just from the medical and professional standpoint but also from the
viewpoint of the family and the patient. I live it everyday.”

Feels Like Home
Receiving compassionate care in a home-like environment is paramount
for hospice patients. Designers of the 23,000 square foot OSF Richard
L. Owens Hospice Home chose colors and décor to create a comforting
environment. Upon walking into the home, patients are greeted with the
serene image of The Good Shepherd, a 23 by 9 foot pastel painting on the
wall opposite the entrance. The laminate, hardwood floors, sweeping
maple wood archways and love seats lining the foyer area offer an
elegant, refined appearance. The home could almost resemble a spa,
encompassing a massage room, a hydrotherapy room, and an Internet café.

In addition to the home itself, 16 private patient rooms allow each
person access to a large screen television, refrigerator, and a private
bathroom and shower. Each patient room, a spacious 300 square feet,
prevents seniors and their families from feeling overcrowded.

The OSF Hospice Home’s patient-centered services and amenities provide
visiting family members with a laundry room and bathing and dressing
rooms. Additionally, spacious family rooms in each of two wings invite
loved ones to visit quietly on cushioned sofas around the glow of the

Says Felicia: “When a patient has family and friends
and loved ones surrounding him/her, it does make a difference in the
journey from life to death.”

To Help and to Heal
Dr. Phillip J. Olsson, MD, FACP, Executive Medical Director of OSF
Home Care Services, says he is “thrilled” with the opening of the OSF
Richard L. Owens Hospice Home. “For a long time we have needed a
home-like setting where terminally ill patients can receive superb,
loving medical care. We say this home is a place to live and to focus on
quality of life.”

Between 60 and 80 percent of patients
discharge from the home alive after having received care for an average
of seven to 14 days. The OSF Hospice Home offers general inpatient
24-hour skilled nursing care. The home also provides routine care to
patients who live either in a nursing home or their own home.
Additionally, the home offers respite care for caregivers of patients
already benefiting from hospice services.

Dr. Olsson works with
patients and their families as their attending physician. “My expertise
is getting patient symptoms under control — mostly pain, breathlessness,
or air hunger. My goal is to have patients comfortable within 3 to 6
hours of their arrival.”

Unique to the hospice home is the
availability of sophisticated medications specific to various types of
pain. Patients may suffer from burning pain as the result of traumatized
tissues, pain in the bones or nerves from invasive cancers, or pain in
the organs. Fear or anxiety a patient may experience can exacerbate the
symptoms. For this reason, the hospice home focuses on treating patients
at every level: physical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual.

“Our OSF Hospice care team touches on every aspect of patient
wellness. We have a social worker, a physician, a nurse, a chaplain,
bereavement and grief support, and specialized counseling as needed,”
according to Dr. Olsson.
“Hospice care is not about dying,” Donna adds. “It’s about helping patients live the very best life they can at every level.”

Part of helping patients to live their best life means being honest.
“Many patients come here and they haven’t even heard the words dying or
death,” according to Felicia. “We have open, honest conversations with
families, and we allow family members and patients to say: ‘I love you.
Goodbye.’ We’ve had so many family members say to us: ‘I had no idea
death could be beautiful.’”

Going the Extra Mile
Highly trained nurses and staff with a “hospice heart” contribute
immensely to the quality of patient care for which OSF is known. The
facility has 14 certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and 14 registered
nurses (RNs) to ensure the most appropriate staffing model for patients.
The hospice home also staffs a cook and an executive chef.

provide a la carte meals to our patients,” says Felicia. “We had a
patient who wanted a lemon shake-up one night. So, one of our staff
volunteers went to the store and bought some lemons. Hospice care is
patient-centered care. Everything we do, every decision we make, is
centered around them.”

“A Journey and a Dream”
Although each sharing a collective goal for helping and preparing
patients and families for dealing with a terminal illness, the staff at
OSF hopes to achieve their own personal goals as well. “My goal is to
make the hospice journey with as many patients as I can,” says Donna.
“Hospice has been, for me, both a journey and a dream.”

Olsson considers his involvement in hospice “both medicine and
ministry.” “I feel God has called me to be a part of this home. Helping
patients come to terms with death is just really wonderful.”

get so much more out of this than I give,” adds Felicia. “It was the
Sisters’ Mission to take care of the dying. And so, what a joy to carry
on that mission for patients and for families.”

For more information on the OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home, visit The Richard L. Owens Hospice Home is located near the OSF Center for Health at 8360 N. Illinois Route 91 in Peoria.

Patients must be referred to the home by their physician. Please call 1-800-673-5288 to speak to a nurse 24/7.