45 Years: A Generous Community

45 years ago this month, founder Lorraine Berndt incorporated Community Home Health to better serve the growing home health need in Cowlitz County. It would take one year for Community’s hospice program to be introduced, and another six for Community to open a 4-room hospice inpatient facility. The facility eventually expanded to the 12-room campus it is today, reaching completion in 1997.

In this week’s dive into the archive, see how the community came together to provide their seniors and ill with a facility fit for their needs.

January 20, 1996

“Hospice breaks ground on $2.5M center expansion” by Allan Brettman,  The Daily News

Four years ago, Community Home Health and Hospice envisioned raising $2.5 million one day and expanding the space at its Longview home.

$1.7 million down.

$800,000 to go.

With that substantial kitty in the bank, the hospice on Friday took a step toward its goal, breaking ground for the project at 1035 11th Ave., next to the existing Hospice Care Center.

The 17,800-square-foot expansion project will add eight more patient rooms for a total of 12 rooms and 22,900 square feet at the center for terminally ill patients. It will include a community volunteer center. And it will allow the center’s 150-member staff, many of whom toil in three far-flung Longview-Kelso locations, to work under one roof.

About 80 percent of the hospice’s care takes place in patients’ homes, said executive director Lorraine Berndt. And even with the expansion, the majority of care will be done in homes.

An expanded hospice, however, will give more families the option to take a break from around-the-clock nursing of a dying relative, or get the patient’s pain under control, Berndt said.

In a ground-breaking ceremony Friday morning, Beth Helenberg of Castle Rock was terminally ill with stomach cancer and had only weeks to live.

A doctor referred the family to the hospice, said Beth, a registered nurse at St. John Medical Center and Lillian’s daughter-in-law.

“A social worker, Mary Van Drew, came to our home and she explained the services available to us. She talked to my mother-in-law and she talked to the family about our feelings,” Beth said. “She just gave us a whole lot of support we needed at that time.”

The hospice helped equip Beth’s home with the supplies and equipment to take care of Lillian. A hospice registered nurse, Amy Boltinghouse, helped the family set up a plan of care.

“Her one desire was to be with her children and grandchildren and the hospice allowed us to do that,” Beth said. And, “Our family didn’t want Lillian to have any pain and hospice allowed us to accomplish that goal. They are truly experts in pain management.”

“The last three days of Lillian’s life, we decided she would be best cared for in the hospice care center,” Beth said. “During our stay there our family was so impressed with the caring, compassion, and professional expertise of each member of the hospice health care team.

“We are so thankful for everything they did for our mother and for us.”

Lillian died July 27. At Friday’s ceremony, Beth presented a contribution to the hospice on behalf of the Helenberg family.

Also, the Health Care Foundation, the philanthropic group formed after the Monticello Medical Center was sold to St. John, presented a check for $100,000.

Fund-raising for the expansion got its biggest boost in November 1994 when the state awarded a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to Cowlitz County to be applied to the expansion project.

While $1.7 million is a lot, it’s $800,000 short of where the hospice hoped to be when a ground-breaking was envisioned, said Berndt, a registered nurse whose vision in the late 1970s led to the establishment of the hospice, reputed to be the first in the Pacific Northwest.

“We can borrow money,” she said. “But we would prefer to raise it to make health care costs less.”

Construction is scheduled to be completed in eight moths. Bob Shaw will be the architect of the project. Marvin L. Cole will be the general contractor.

Transcribed from the following: Longview Daily News, Sat, Jan 20, 1996 A1 and Longview Daily News, Sat, Jan 20, 1996 A2

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