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September 3, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 22

COMMENTARY

photo: Architect’s rendering of the guest house.
Architect’s rendering of the guest house.

St. Mary’s Hospital to build guest house in Richmond

Families of patients at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond who live more than 90 minutes from the hospital will soon have a place to stay in a new guest house which will provide lodging and a community of support.

The 11,500-square-foot facility, designed to blend in with the neighborhood, will have 14 guest rooms and two family suites. In addition, guests of hospital patients will have a living room and dining room, two kitchens, a playroom and sun porch. There will also be laundry facilities.

No meals will be served, but guests will be able to prepare meals in the house.

Plans call for the groundbreaking to be held in January 2013 with dedication set for the fall of that year. The still unnamed guest house will be the first major building project for St. Mary’s Hospital on Libbie Avenue in more than 45 years.

“We are trying to be good neighbors with the local residents,” said Nancy Plageman, chair of the fundraising committee. “We’ve had three meetings with the neighbors.”

After previous contact with the neighborhood people, Bon Secours altered slightly the facade of the planned guest house to keep the facade “more residential in appearance than institutional,” said Sean O’Brien with the Bon Secours Richmond Health Care Foundation.

Overnight guests will need to have a recommendation from the office of the physician treating their family member. They will also need to make a reservation for a specific period of time.

“They can’t just show up and say ‘I want a room for the night,’” Mrs. Plageman said.

In addition to the financial savings of not having to pay for lodging at a hotel, there is another major benefit, Bon Secours feels.“Patients heal much more quickly when they know their family is taken care of,” Mrs. Plageman explained.

“I see the new Guest House as an essential component of the care I provide to my patients,” said Dr. Gary Zeevi, M.D., medical director of the Bon Secours Advanced Heart Failure Center and chairman of the Guest House fundraising effort.

“It is well established that patients are more engaged in their treatment when their families are nearby for support, especially during extended hospital stays,” he added.

The guest house will have adequate parking behind the facility. There is a possibility of having a shuttle bus to transport guests to and from the hospital.

The project is being financed with money from community leaders, physicians’ groups and private foundations. The Reinhart Foundation has given an initial gift in memory of the late Evelyn Reinhart, a former Army nurse who became a volunteer at St. Mary’s Hospital when her children grew older.

St. Mary’s Hospital has carried on its “mission of hospitality” in four separate houses on nearby Maple Avenue for many years, but combined they can house only eight guests. The hospital expects to retain use of the houses.

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