Foundation Celebrates Opening Of Hospice House

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When you first enter Payson's first hospice house, the view is somewhat unexpected.

Art pieces adorn the walls. Leather couches with large pillows face a stone fireplace. A large backyard patio overlooks acres of shady pine trees.

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With beautiful leather couches adorned by big, fluffy pillows, Payson's first hospice house looks more like a comfortable home than a sterile hospital environment, and that's the idea, according to Rim Country Hospice Foundation president Guy Pfister.

It's not the kind of view typically coupled with doctors, nurses and the terminally ill.

And that's the idea.

"The whole concept is to make it a home feeling," said Guy Pfister, president of the Rim Country Hospice Foundation.

The grand opening of the house will be Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 511 S. Mud Springs Road.

The festivities will include an ice cream social, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the facility.

The hospice house has been in the works for nearly 10 years as the foundation raised money with auctions, yard sales and donations.

During that time, RTA Hospice operated in a much smaller location. The result of the effort is a new house worth more than $1.5 million that sits next to the Frontier Elementary School where a dirt lot used to be.

"This [house] symbolizes what everybody has donated all these years," Pfister said.

RTA Hospice is an organization that provides care and comfort for patients who are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses and are not responding to treatment.

The Rim Country Hospice Foundation raises funds and provides grants for patients who are in dire financial straits.

RTA Hospice also tries to meet the needs of families during the last stages of the illness. The new house offers private patios, a kitchen area, a laundry area and a bereavement room for family members who are visiting the patients.

The hospice house differs from a hospital in many ways, but one is that the patient wing is actually designed to handle patients for only a few days. A patient can stay in a room for five days, which allows respite for families providing 24-hour care.

"The patient wing would be for persons whose loved ones are dying and they can't cope with them at home," RTA Regional Vice President Vicki Dietz said. "Just to give the family a break."

Most of the hospice care is done at the patient's home.

RTA currently currently serves 110 patients in the Rim country.

"It's amazing that a (nurse) can go out, deal with dying people and their families, hold their hands, give support and describe the dying process," Pfister said. "I could never even imagine doing that. They're angels."

The new house has an employee lounge for the doctors, nurses and administrators who make up the second wing of the house. The house will be kind of a home base for the nurses in between visits to patients' homes.

Dietz began her career as a nurse, and said she uses all of her skills at RTA Hospice.

"It's an opportunity to be a part of a special time for a person physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially," she said. "It answers a real deep calling for me."

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