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Unique Partnership Leads to New Hospice House in Buffalo

Updated: 05/01/2014 6:57 AM
Created: 04/28/2014 2:51 PM KSTP.com
By: Jessica Miles

When we hear the words hospice, most of us probably think it pertains to the older population.

Not the case in Buffalo, Minnesota, where a very special partnership, 5 years in the making, is bringing a new kind of hospice care to those in need for both old and young.

"Each one of our suites will have a view of the lake and the park," says Laura Jones, with the Community Health Foundation of Wright County.

No flooring, no walls, and yet you can see in her eyes the love Jones has for the new Hospice House in Buffalo. It is under construction.

"For several years my passion has been hospice. I had a brother who died very young of cancer and I was part of his hospice care giving and from that time on I said we need a hospice house," she said through tears.

Jones says not everyone wants to, or is able to die at home.

"Hospice is our way of saving I love you, I'll miss you, and be able to say goodbye with the expert staff that knows how to help you say those goodbyes."

Sierra Helmbrecht was only 10 years old when her mom died of cancer. Her mom Heather was only 32, and died at the family home.

"Occasionally I will have dreams where I relive that night and I will go downstairs and there will be somebody in there and I think it's my mom, get all excited and it won't be," Helmbrecht said.

It was her mom's wishes to die at home, but for a little girl, it was tough. It still is.

"It's difficult some days to go in there, some days I just sit there, sit in that room and talk to her a little bit," she said.

The Buffalo Hospice House is set up with five individual suites where families, like Helmbrecht's, can spend their last days with their loved one.

It has a separate chapel, living room, dining room, kitchen, even a kids play area. It's supposed to feel like home for grieving families.

There are already 100 volunteers ready and waiting to get in and help out, doing everything from making coffee and cookies to playing with kids in the play area to reading to residents.

Helmbrecht can't wait to volunteer. She says the tragedy of losing her mom has pushed her toward a career of helping others.

"I'm actually studying to be a nursing assistant, and I was hoping someday I could work in a place like this," she says.

The 1.2 million dollar hospice house is set to open in July. There is a fundraising walk coming up on May 4, 2014.

For details, and to find out how you can help, click here.


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