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Hospice reaches fund raising goal

Approximately 19 months ago, the Detroit Lakes office of the Hospice of the Red River Valley began working on a project to relocate its rapidly expanding operations to a new home.

In the summer of 2005, it became apparent that the local hospice had outgrown its location on East Main Street, and that a move would be necessary to house additional staff needed for serving increasing numbers of patients and families.

"We were taking care of 16 patients and families per day -- but we felt we should be able to take care of 50 patients and families per day," said Joy Crouch, community relations representative for HRRV. "With the space we were in, we were operating with four people per working space -- which was not conducive to doing what we were trying to do.

"So we took a big leap of faith that would allow us to grow and expand our staff."

After examining all the options for relocation, it was determined that leasing a larger, existing space would be "better stewardship of the money entrusted to us" than constructing a new building, Crouch said.

A local Development Committee, comprised of Dixie Johnson, Dave Karsnia, Ron Peterson, Ann Ryan, Jerry Schutz and Shelly Stowman, determined that Hospice would need to raise $360,000 in operational funds to "get us over the hump," Crouch said, noting that this amount would be in excess of the $200,000 per year that HRRV was already receiving from the community.

And so the "Go 360 With Hospice of the Red River Valley" campaign was born. "Thanks to the hard work of the committee members and the open-hearted generosity" of the community, Crouch said, it was announced at an open house last month that a total of $365,181 had been pledged and/or given -- surpassing the initial goal.

"We are community-owned and community supported, and we're really proud of that," Crouch noted.

Hospice of the Red River Valley is a community asset that provides end-of-life care and education within a 60-minute radius of Detroit Lakes. Hospice care steps in when a terminal diagnosis is given, bringing medical, emotional, spiritual and practical support to patients and families. When death occurs, hospice doesn't end, as grief support continues to be offered to loved ones.

While the majority of hospice patients are funded through Medicare, an ever-increasing number are paid through Medicaid or private insurance. A gap exists between the cost of providing care and the reimbursement given, meaning that the targeted philanthropy of the community is necessary for hospice services to continue to be provided, Crouch explained.

"It surprises people how big hospice is in this area, and how much it's grown," she continued. "Last year, we had an operating budget of $1.8 million -- and $200,000 of that came through gifts (from the community)."

Those gifts range from $5 memorials to large estate bequests, Crouch noted.

Still, even with the community's generosity, "We thought it would take 3-5 years to accomplish that 50-patient-per-day goal -- but instead, we've done it in about 18 months."

For more information about hospice services, please come to HRRV's new Detroit Lakes offices at 1102 W. River Rd., call 218-847-9493, or visit the Web site online at www.hrrv.org.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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