At first blush, “excited” seems an odd word to use in anticipation of opening a new hospice facility. But that is exactly how Knoxville Realtor Cindy Bradley feels about starting construction on the patient wing at Sacred Ground Hospice House on Dry Gap Pike. Sacred Ground purchased the former Faith United Methodist Church in April (see story here).
“We’re breaking ground in 30 days,” Bradley said of the 16-room residential facility. “What a beautiful thing to be able to provide for families who need this.” She said the goal will be to create rooms that “feel like home” instead of a hospital, so that relatives and friends can inhabit the space of loved ones instead of caregivers. “We want it to feel like a big warm hug, without the medical smell or feel.”
Bradley emphasized the very personal nature of these end-of-life decisions, whether to do hospice care in home or in a facility. For in-home hospice care, “the toll on family caregivers is significant.” And in some cases, simply isn’t feasible. “We all need to have the option of how we face the end.”
Getting Sacred Ground up and running has been a passion project for Bradley since the closing of St. Mary’s Residential Hospice in Halls in the summer of 2017. The initial plan was to purchase and take over that facility, but negotiations fell through. So, it was on to Plan B: find another location. While that created a delay of game, Bradley foresees a ribbon cutting in late winter or early spring next year.
Bradley said that following the loss of her husband, Rudy, three years ago, “God knew I needed a purpose,” and that all of her real estate income goes to hospice. “I work because I can’t imagine not working. I don’t care about my legacy. This is about giving back to a world that’s been really good to me. It’s a faith thing. This is my heart. It’s an absolute tragedy that a community of this size doesn’t have a facility.” When asked exactly what her position at Sacred Ground is, she said her title is “whatever needs done.”
The existing church building and chapel will be used for administrative offices, family support and volunteer coordination. To that end, Sacred Ground hosted its first volunteer sign up on July 12 (with masks and social distancing protocols).
“We had a tremendous response, at least 40 people showed up,” Bradley said, adding that others have made contact through the organization’s web and Facebook pages. She invites anyone interested in donating money or time to do the same thing, and said there isn’t a skill she can imagine they can’t make use of, from painting to landscaping to repairs to cleaning, adding there are plenty of volunteer opportunities from now till opening. She made it clear that making a lasting success of Sacred Ground, a non-profit, is up to the community in terms of dollars and time.
“It will require the financial and volunteer support of the public, churches, civic groups and individuals not only to get it open, but to sustain it,” she said. “It’s a good thing.” Reach Sacred Ground here.
Beth Kinnane is a freelance writer and thoroughbred bloodstock agent.