“PeaceHealth came to believe it was in the best interest of their organization – and the best thing for the community at large – to collaborate with us,” said Pang. “We’ve been friends for decades; we weren’t going to let this certificate of need get in the way of that.”
With the appeal out of the way, CHHH began to look for a financial partner in September 2012. Ten months later, they and Sterling Bank (now merging with Umpqua Bank) partnered on the project, and the design phase began in June 2013. Pang said they hope to break ground for Phase 1 of the project in March, open the facility in early 2015, and begin Phase 2 near the end of 2016.
Phase 1 consists of a ten-bed hospice care center, supportive spaces and office space for the clinical staff. Phase 2 will add another 21,000 square feet, including another ten hospice beds as well as a memorial garden, grief support center, community conference center and space for the field staff (who will remain at CHHH’s leased space near the Kaiser Clinic until phase 2 is complete). Phase 1 is being completely funded by CHHH; they will soon launch a capital campaign to fund Phase 2.
The grief support center initially was slated for only 1,900 square feet, but based on experience with a similar center in Longview where CHHH saw a 42 percent increase in the grief support program in the first year, they increased the planned square footage for the support center to 4,200 square feet.
“There is an untapped need,” said Pang, for this sort of community support program.
According to Pang, the entire project will create 70 to 80 construction jobs and another 30 indirect jobs, 30 new health care and four admin jobs. He expects $2 million in payroll and $6.1 million in sales revenue annually. Longview-based JH Kelly is the general contractor; the lead architect is Craig Collins from Collins Architectural Group, also based in Longview.
Pang said the location is perfect for a hospice center. Located on six acres in Salmon Creek, three of which are wetlands, the facility provides the sense of being out in the country, despite being in the heart of the metro area. The proximity of I-5 and I-205 enables easy access to the facility, and enables field staff easy access to all parts of the county to visit patients. Part of the property was donated to CHHH by Ron Wilson and Jan Keenan.
“If it hadn’t been for that donation, we wouldn’t have had enough parking and would have had to look for a different property,” said Pang.
The project will benefit from the fee waivers put in place by the county commissioners, saving $100,000 to $150,000.
“That pays for all the equipment in a hospice care center room,” Pang said. “I can’t tell you how much that means to us.”
Although Pang is eagerly anticipating the March groundbreaking, the waiting isn’t entirely over. He said CHHH was still waiting for their county permits, having applied in early November, and was also awaiting an official letter from the health department acknowledging the “commencement” of the project (the certificate of need expires in May).
“It’s really been a road for us,” said Pang. “I’ll be so choked up at groundbreaking, I won’t know what to say!”