An inpatient hospice would be a wonderful addition to Lawrence, and it's good to hear that a Douglas County group is making plans to pursue development of such a facility.
The CEO of Douglas County Visiting Nurses, Rehabilitation and Hospice Care asked county commissioners this week to consider donating land behind the United Way Center for Human Services at 2518 Ridge Court as a site for the hospice facility. As they should, commissioners said they would need to closely examine whether the site was suitable for the hospice and whether the county would need that land for other purposes. The county shouldn't be hasty in handling the request, but it should give serious consideration to supporting a facility that will provide a vital service to the community.
The goal of hospice care is to allow people to die with dignity and without pain. Although Lawrence Memorial Hospital has made advances in offering end-of-life care, the ability to provide hospice services often depends on having family members or others who can be full-time caregivers at home.
In this day and age, that often isn't possible. Families are far-flung, and many people facing the end of their lives don't want to be a burden to children, spouses or friends. They nonetheless deserve the comfortable setting and the emotional and physical support that hospice services provide.
The closest inpatient hospice to Lawrence is in Topeka. The 12-bed facility envisioned by VNA would be a godsend for many local individuals and their families who are facing a terminal illness.
On the surface, the land, about a 5-acre plot, behind the United Way center seems like a reasonable choice. The center is a former nursing home and is on a local bus route. Many issues, including drainage, must be considered, but the land would be a huge financial boost to the project.
Whether or not the land behind the United Way center is the eventual home of a new hospice facility, the community should recognize the need for an inpatient hospice somewhere in Lawrence. With the increase of retirees moving to Lawrence and the aging of baby boomers who already live here, there will be an increasing need to provide additional end-of-life care.
People may not like to think about it, but the end of life is part of life and deserves the kind of caring attention that an inpatient hospice could provide to many local residents.